20 Jan

“Even school’s better than this!” Hardly a glowing endorsement; but more of that later in this blog.

It was with great dismay that I read the BBC website last night. Oldham schools were yet again heavily criticised. On another site, reporters stated that only 1% of all families understand Progress 8. On yet another, heads have warned that schools could try to ‘lose’ their most vulnerable pupils because their GCSE results could be particularly damaging to league table positions under Progress 8.

It feels that sometimes our children and young people are pawns in this huge game of political chess. I feel so disappointed that our own daughter, who is in Year 9, has been asked to pick her options from a narrow range of subjects that she may not be interested in or have an aptitude to study.

When I look back on my own time at secondary school the choice I had was incredibly limited. I had to do English, English Literature, Maths, a Science (I did Biology), History, French, Classics and Music – almost an English Baccalaureate! We appear to be reconstructing a system that was hardly fit for purpose in the 1970s!! Where in today’s curriculum offer is the emphasis on new technologies, on transferable skills, on being a great citizen, on playing a part in your community?

The schools within our Group pride themselves on ensuring a personalised approach to the curriculum. All our children and young people are individuals. It is no wonder that some of our youngsters have such a negative view of the education system. They are at risk of being let down within a system that is both overcrowded and driven by the imminent threat of ‘inspection’. I’m certainly not criticising schools or school leaders, but the imposed central changes within the system that are both constant and continuous.

Oldham has introduced the Oldham Pledge and the ‘Passport to Success’, a new initiative aimed at offering all our children and young people experiences within and outside of the classroom. It recognises that these children, as they grow to become young adults, can contribute to our communities in so many ways.

Kyle, the young man I have to thank for my opening quote, is presently in Manchester Children’s hospital. Along with all of our other children in our schools, Kyle has had the opportunity to be a member of a sports team, to go on overseas residentials, to participate in before and after clubs, to visit many places of interest, to attend theatre performances, to laugh and have fun with his mates, to swim, to get it wrong and to learn how to ‘make different choices’. All of this supported by a dedicated team of professionals. The list could go on. See you back in school soon Kyle, our school isn’t as bright without you in it.

Rather than the constant ‘school bashing’, let’s take time to focus on the great things that are happening in our town and in our schools. If Bury can win a football game, anything is possible!

Have a great weekend,