Friday, April 14, 2006


As if political interference has not done enough to destroy them already. Note that British local councils are often very Leftist

Thousands of apparently successful schools will face the threat of being taken over by their local authorities under powers unveiled by Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, today. Schools that are "coasting" or failing to stretch pupils to their potential will be given just 15 days to make improvements spelt out in "warning notices" issued by councils. Failure to respond will trigger intervention by town hall hit squads with powers to take control of a school's budget and appoint new governors.

As many as one in four of England's 24,000 schools could be caught by the rules, which a headteachers' leader described last night as "very worrying". Local authorities will have powers to compel a school to join a federation so that it can be run by a more successful neighbour. They will be able to seek Ms Kelly's permission to sack the entire governing body and replace it with a hand-picked board.

The powers effectively overturn years of policy from both Conservative and Labour governments, which have successively cut the powers of local authorities to intervene in the running of schools. It also casts doubt on Tony Blair's stated goal in the Education and Inspections Bill of creating a new generation of "trust" schools free of town hall interference. Mr Blair has said that the Bill will establish a system of "independent state schools" with heads and governors in control.

Critics will see the latest plans, set out in draft guidance from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), as an attempt to appease backbench Labour MPs angered by Mr Blair's desire to cut out the role of local authorities in schools. The 71-page document on dealing with "schools causing concern" makes clear that the Bill will strengthen dramatically the powers of local authorities to take charge of thousands of schools. They can only intervene at present when standards are "unacceptably low", the safety of pupils is at risk, or there has been "serious breakdown in management".

Ms Kelly intends to rewrite the definition of what constitutes poor performance to include thousands of "coasting" schools, where data suggests that children should be doing better even if their exam results are good in comparison with other local schools. Ofsted has declared that one in four schools is "coasting". "A school where the absolute level of attainment is apparently satisfactory may nonetheless be caught by the definition if pupil performance is persistently below levels expected when pupils' prior attainment and the school's context is taken into account," the guidance says. "This provision is specifically designed so authorities can tackle underperforming schools, as well as those with outright low standards."

Councils will judge performance using data which compares schools' results in GCSE exams and national curriculum tests with prior standards achieved by their pupils. It also takes account of levels of family poverty in a school.

Schools will only be able to appeal to Ofsted if they disagree with the council's assessment. The guidance states that an appeal may trigger an inspection to determine whether the council's action is appropriate. The DfES guidance states that the new powers will target schools in the bottom quarter nationally on "one or more key performance indicators", including exams, attendance and expulsion rates. Schools will also be vulnerable to a council takeover where they are "persistently and unacceptably letting down sizeable groups of pupils".

Local authorities will issue warning notices for schools to address underperformance within 15 days. Local authorities will be free to intervene just one day after the deadline if the head and governors do not respond to their demands or fail to appeal.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, called the guidance "very worrying". "This is very far from the Prime Minister's vision of schools being more independent from local authorities."


British schools 'covering up' attacks on staff

Record compensation payments have been made to teachers this year, but schools have been accused of covering up attacks on staff to avoid negative publicity. Violence and poor behaviour are cited as the most common reasons for teachers leaving the profession. However, far from being supported, most said that they were under pressure to keep quiet about incidents.

"On a good day, some of us are verbally assaulted on an almost hourly basis in our work," Jovan Trkulja told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) annual conference in Gateshead. Mr Trkulja, 37, a modern languages supply teacher in Tottenham, North London, told delegates that he had been hit several times in his job, once with a brick to the back of his head, and last year he was knocked down "by a braying mob of Year 9s". He said that when he raised the issue with his employers, they refused to treat the assault as crime. "When someone suffers a violent incident, the school seems to 'deal with it' internally," he said. "Schools don't want to be seen as places where violence occurs, especially not by parents on teachers or, more frequently, pupils on teachers."

In January the ATL recorded 39 cases in the previous year of members suffering attacks from pupils and parents that had resulted in serious injuries meriting compensation. Lesley Ward, a teacher at Intake Primary School in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, said children frequently "pushed the boundaries" with their behaviour, seeing what they could get away with. "Occasionally the end result is another adult can't physically or mentally cope because they are beaten literally and not protected, and we lose another good teacher."

Assaults on teachers had contributed to 7.6 million pounds in compensation paid to members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers last year. The NASUWT published the figures at its annual conference in Birmingham, showing that compensation payments for personal injury and employment disputes were 850,000 pounds higher in 2005 than in 2004.

A teacher in Preston, Lancashire, received 129,600 pounds after a child at a neighbouring school threw a brick at her head. Linda Curtis, a design and technology teacher at a school in Bristol, suffered severe shoulder injuries after she was thrown against a radiator while attempting to break up a fight 13 years ago. She received 10,000 pounds compensation this year from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Jim Quigley, the NASUWT's legal officer, said that bad behaviour by pupils was increasing dramatically. Cases that produced compensation payments were the tip of the iceberg. "It is a growing problem, but it is very hard to bring such cases to a successful outcome," he said. "An employer's defence generally is that it was not foreseeable that a child would have assaulted a teacher in these circumstances. "There are lots of cases where teachers are assaulted and they will not report it. They will be dissuaded from reporting it by the school because it doesn't look good."

Jacqui Smith, the Schools Minister, said that, according to Ofsted, classroom behaviour was now "satisfactory or better" in 94 per cent of secondary and 99 per cent of primary schools. However, she added that the Education and Inspections Bill would deliver "a new legal right to discipline" children and send a strong message that a culture of disrespect would not be tolerated. [Just empty huffing and puffing and everybody knows it]



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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