Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Leaders' letters

Unrealistic deadline gives 'failing school' no time for improvement

I was alarmed to read in the national newspapers that there is to be a "rescue plan for failing schools" completed by the local authority within the next 50 days.

For our school, last year the score for five GCSEs including English and maths was indeed only 23 per cent. The contextual value-added, however, was 1033.4, a figure which puts us in the top 100 schools nationally. For this, we received congratulatory letters from Jim Knight and Steve Munby.

Our last Ofsted report judged the school to be good with outstanding features. In this context, what does the government mean by a 'failing school'?

I am bemused as to where this time scale has come from - presumably political factors and not educational factors have determined this. I fully expect our figures to be higher this summer but we are being given no chance to improve with this July deadline.

John Platten, Headteacher, Alderman Peel High School, Wells-next-the-Sea


Label of 'failing schools' sends out wrong message

I was appointed in January 2006 to my first headship in this inner city community college, with a catchment area of significant deprivation, in a city with selective education.

As I stood in the hall this morning with year 11 students who were sitting their GCSEs, they were being told nationally that they, their school and the community it serves is failing. What a positive way to start your exam.

Those of us who work with our young people would never dream of using such hurtful words. One student came up to me and said I love it here, I am proud to wear my uniform. Thank you for all you have done for us.

I was moved to tears. This is how the government has made our young people feel, the next generation. What legacy will this leave?

Wendy Brett, Principal, Sir John Hunt Community Sports College, Plymouth

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