Friday, 8 February 2008

Who knew?

The Northern Echo reported this morning on the General Teaching Council's reprimand for the former Head and Deputy Head of Eastbourne School, who falsified pupil attendance records in 2005. Quite why it has taken three years for this to come to light I can't imagine, but it is one more depressing chapter in the sorry history of Eastbourne School, which has consistently failed its pupils.

Dithering and weak political leadership over several years contributed directly to the downward spiral of this school, rated at the time as one of the worst performers in the whole country. Ms Pemberton dragged the school out of Special Measures, but the intolerable pressure on her to achieve results and meet targets seems to have produced this critical failure of judgement.

The censuring of Ms Pemberton and Mr Rushton raises the question of just who knew about this, has there been a deliberate cover-up in the Council, and are the rumours about pay-offs and gagging orders true?

I have written to John Williams, the Leader of the Council, and Chris McEwan, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People and demanded answers to the following questions:

Did Councillors know about this manipulation of attendance figures and, if so, why did they choose to keep quiet?

Do the Leader of the Council and the responsible Cabinet Member accept responsibility for the intolerable pressure under which the Head and Deputy Head were placed to achieve results despite inadequate political and administrative support, which resulted in their regrettable actions?

Did Ms Pemberton or Mr Rushton receive pay-offs for leaving Eastbourne School? If so, what was the size of these pay-offs and what conditions were attached to them? If there were any pay-offs, were any Councillors aware of them?

These questions have been copied to the Echo as part of a press release.

No response yet!


miketually said...

The pressure on schools to achieve results and hit targets is ridiculous. When combined with the ever-increasing move to more and more coursework-based assessment, I'm surprised that there haven't been many more cases of teachers 'fiddling' results.

It is interesting to look at the Primary school league tables, having worked within primary schools in the town. There are schools who are lower down the table thatn they deserve, because they don't pass on the pressure to get results onto their pupils. Some schools do nothing in Year 6 other than work which will contribute to their SATs results - no art, history, geohraphy, RE, etc. - and send the kids home with mountains of homework every weekend, while others continue to offer a balanced curriculum.

Anonymous said...

What if I told you that I have it on good evidence that one of these
teachers was persuaded into retirement by a higher pension subsidised by the the Borough Council

Eastbourne Mole

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes...

As a school governor and one of Darlington's reps to the National Governors Association I have consistently urged that the primary school league tables are not a fair representation of what goes on in a primary school.

How can a village primary school with say 10 children taking SATs be compared with my school, Harrowgate Hill Primary School, where we have 70 children taking SATs and yet they are ranked in one league table.

I am also concerned that the primary league tables have a harmful effect on those primary schools who are at the foot of the tables from the point of view of staff and pupil morale and parents confidence in the school.

I put these points to David Milliband when he was Schools Secretary at an education conference and received a far from satisfactory answer.

If we are to have primary league tables they should reflect the school as a whole not a narrow part of it. I find value added a difficult concept to grasp and if I have difficulty what about parents?

I am more concerned with the the smooth transition from primary to secondary schools and there is continuity in learning so that the child can build on what has been learnt at primary schools.

I favour scraping the position of the primary school in the table by the percentage passes in SATs.

I have no problems with secondary league tables, although I would like to see separate stats produced for GCSE and NVQ passes. At the moment the statistics show the percentage number of students passing GCSEs or the equivalent.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Mike T. I note your comments about fiddling the results. If there is evidence that this is happening elsewhere it must be reported to the Children's Servivces Department. This is deception. It must be stamped on good and hard.

If the young person had an accident whilst they were absent from school and they were marked as being in school the school would be in clear breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act. Those responsible would be committing a criminal act and could well end up in prison or a fine not to mentioned being sued under the civil law by the parents.

miketually said...

Just to clarify, I don't know of any specific cases of results being 'fiddled'. I am just surprised it doesn't happen more.

To progress up the pay scale, teachers must show that their classes have achieved above a set level. So, teachers' pay is directly linked to the results achieved by the students, and teachers are marking an increasing proportion of the work done by students.