Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hold the front page! The Ridings School is rubbish shock!



I hear the Ridings school is back in trouble! Interesting that because, in reality, it never was out of trouble.

Some of you may wonder what I am talking about. Way back in the dim and distant past, when I was a cub reporter on the Halifax Courier, I broke a story about chaos at the Ridings School in West Yorkshire which became big national news. Basically, the kids were rioting and the academic results were absolutely abysmal (only 8 per cent of children got 5 A to C grades). The national newspapers followed up my story and had a field day, labelling it the "School from Hell", "The Worst School in Britain", and "Grange Hell".

The Ridings was closed down, its leaders were chucked out and it was reopened under a new and charismatic joint headship. The story ran for months and became the focus for a national debate about failing school leadership. This approach, that schools were bad because their leaders were bad and that schools could be saved by new leadership, has defined the Labour Government's basic approach to education policy since. Tony Blair is particularly attached to it. I once heard him say he could tell how good a school was without even entering it, but simply from his first impressions of the head teacher. What a load of toss!

Anyway, the media have periodically revisited the Ridings in the decade since it became infamous and have told a heart warming story of a struggle against the odds, in which charismatic leaders have dragged a down-and-out school from the depths to something approaching respectability. Millions of pounds have been poured into this flagship project. The two headteachers who took the helm after the Ridings disgrace, Peter Clarke CBE and Anna White CBE, have been hailed as heroes and showered with plaudits and honours for "turning the school around". Successive education secretaries and Blair himself have made numerous visits to the school to trumpet this example of how the worst can be made, if not into the best, then into the just below average.

So how shocking to read that headline on the BBC website this week: "Ridings School 'inadequate' again"! The article continued breathlessly:
The Ridings School in Halifax has been given notice to improve after Ofsted inspectors said it was "performing less well than could be expected". The report said pupils were disruptive and capable of achieving more, and that teaching quality was "variable".But it praised the new head teacher and leadership team, saying they had made good plans to raise standards.
Well, as the person who broke this story, I must say I'm not surprised at all that the Ridings school is inadequate "again". The plain fact is that it always has been inadequate and always will be. All this talk about great leadership, while no doubt true, has completely missed the point.

That terrible 8 per cent of students getting 5 GCSE A-Cs became 6 per cent in the year after the "rescue" of the school, then 3 per cent. Fair enough, you might say. This might be put down to the inadequacies of the old regime playing themselves out. But never, between 1996 and 2003 did the number of good GCSEs top 13 per cent. Then, in 2003, a great set of results: 25 per cent good grades! Still absolutely appalling by national standards, but an improvement. Head teacher Anna White said this marked the "long-awaited turning point". To mix metaphors, the turning point seems to have been a false dawn. Last summer, the figure was back down to 14 per cent. The Ridings never was "the worst school in Britain". However, despite the nice fairytale the Government and parts of the media have told in the decade since it was "rescued", it always has been a poorly performing school.

Why? The real issue was and is that the structure of education in Halifax inevitably means that the Ridings will always be in the Doldrums. A vicious selective education system exists in the town. It is a small place with two grammar schools in it and a hierarchy of schools beneath them, which exist to cater for the various grades of "failures" who didn't get into the flagship schools. We are not just talking a "Grammar School" and "Secondary Modern" system here; we are talking "Grammar School" and then "Secondary Modern, level 1", "Secondary Modern, level 2", "Secondary Modern, level 3" ... etc. etc... and then "The Ridings" at the very bottom of the pile. That is a bit of a caricature, there is a bit of localism in the system, but I think it catches the flavour of what is going on. The Halifax situation is particularly vicious because the size of the town means anybody can try to attend any school, but the elitism is the same as with any selective system. The grammar schools raison d'etre is to reproduce success. They take the best children, mix them together in an elite environment, and their results are excellent. The Ridings, at the very bottom of the hierarchy, is arguably set up to fail, to safely accommodate "failing children" for five years well away from the children who have some hope of success. Of course there are children in this group who have tons of potential but any success they do achieve is really remarkable in the Ridings context. The Ridings takes these worst performing children at 11-years-old, mixes them together with no sight of any students who were in any way successful at that age, and its results are terrible. Surprise! Surprise!

If people want to do something about the quality of education offered to the children of Halifax, they should quit looking at the leadership of the Ridings and start looking at the grammar school just 300 metres down the road from it and the other one about a mile away. They should ask themselves whether, in a small town with such a hierarchical structure of education, we can ever expect the school(s) at the bottom of that hierarchy to be any good? The stuck record that is the Ridings story suggests not.

The problem is that looking at such structural issues requires good leadership at the highest level, ie. national politicians. In truth, the leadership at that level on this issue has always been "inadequate". They have, quite consciously, avoided making any decision on an issue that would be politically problematic. Like any bad head, they have avoided the difficult call and preferred to blame their underlings for poor performance.

18 comments:

doltrane said...

To add more metaphors to the mix - you've hit the nail right on the head and got to the heart of the issue here - and not only in relation to Halifax! There will be local aspects specific to Halifax but the broad diagnosis is applicable generally.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry but you have got it all wrong. I was a pupil at The Ridings School in Halifax and I have to say that it is one of the best non-grammar schools in Halifax.

E.g. Holy Trinity had one of there teachers commit suicide because she couldn’t hack the pressure of abusive students and that barely made the headlines of the courier, The Ridings School never had anything like that happen. But when a few idiots who want to show off in front of a BBC camera actually have a fight they do it for a laugh, a joke. What you don’t realise however is that these children have no sense of any description in them whatsoever, and because of this they do not see the severity of the situation. Those 20 or so disabled children get to basically write a report about themselves, a biography, and entitle it The Ridings School.

Also if you haven’t noticed, the schools pass rate at GCSE level is more than the 25% A*-C at GCSE set in 2003. The pass rate is even higher. I don’t know anything about the new head as I left in June. But I know that people like you and the BBC don’t just put pressure on the school by slaging it off but you crush the compassion that all the long serving teachers have renewed. I can see a physical improvement in behaviour, teaching and grades. I got all 13 of the exams I took in-between A*-C.

Also I pass my 11+ for grammar school but chose not to go, why do you ask. Because talking to my fellow students who do attend those schools, the pressure is so intense that students tend to lose the will to work hard because of the worry of failure or not getting the same results as everyone else, the majority of these student I beat when it came to my GCSE results. Not only that, with my results from the school, I am now taking a degree in computing with the UHI and guess what, I am doing really well for someone from such an unsuccessful school.

Also just to let you know there are two others schools that are at the bottom of the pile before the ridings i.e. Toddmorden and Halifax High.

1. Get you facts right
2. Change your opinion about a “once” struggling school.
3. Find something better in life to do rather than write reports about things that have nothing to do with you and are not your concern.

buyo said...

It is true that this school has "nothing to do with me" in the sense that I did not attend it. I also respect your wish that outsiders would stop meddling with an institution you clearly respect. In that sense, I have got "my facts wrong", from your point of view. However, we do not live in "Little Britain". Public discussion has shaped our mass education system since its inception. The Ridings is part of a larger story and I and other people have every right to discuss the school's performance and contradict the media fairy tales (good and bad) that have been told about it.

I sympathise with your frustration with the minority of idiots in the school. I also congratulate you on what sound like good results. In the context of the structural problems I was discussing, you clearly have a lot to congratulate yourself, your teachers and your school on.

However, I was trying to talk about the structural problems with education in Halifax in my post and I believe you missed my point.
Sadly, the statistics I quote are all correct. The results last year were 14 per cent. The national average for 5 GCSE A to Cs is more than 40 per cent. The Ridings, even in its best ever year, struggled to get over half of that. That bears repeating, we are talking about regularly performing at below 50 per cent of the national AVERAGE. Not 50 per cent of good. Not 50 per cent of excellent. 50 per cent of bog standard.

Thankyou for commenting on my post. I would like to give you a bit of feedback, though, about the bullet points at the end. Please give specifics about factual errors or don't make such accusations at all. It undermines you. Do not simply assert that I should "change my opinion" that a school that is performing at below 50 per cent of the national AVERAGE is struggling. Please give some coherent argument. The final comment is not worthy of a response. We live in a democracy and public debate about specific educational issues is important.

Anonymous said...

Ok then. I thank you for giving me commendation on my result and also for giving me a reasonable answer. I understand that we don't live in "Little Britain" and that people have the right to their own opinions. However the point still remains. Rather than make it a public matter than the school is unsuccessful, wouldn't it be wiser for people to make suggestions to help the school. Maybe point out not just where the school is going wrong but how to solve these problems.
The money thrown at the school hasn't made that much of a difference to my generation because the building work undertaken on the school for the technology departments and ICT departments has only just been utilised in this school year. So if all this money is going to make any difference to the grading which is what seams to affect you the most, the results of that will only be seen in the following years to come.
I respect the institute because of the affect it has had on my life, and this was only achieved by the exemplary members of staff that not just know what they are talking about when it comes to education, but also who are a very reliable source for comfort.
Ovenden and Mixinden as places to live are very rough areas of Halifax. I believe that is all come down to the parenting of the children within these schools, that changes the attitude of these students toward education and thus makes them unwilling to work, rather than the school being at fault. Thank you for your time.

buyo said...

My practical suggestion to improve this school and others like it is to close down the Grammar schools, cut the elitism and give these schools a varied intake that allows pupils of all backgrounds to know and learn each other.

Anonymous said...

THE RIDINGS IS THE BEST!!!

Anonymous said...

have you of you actually been in the school if you havent then how can you judge us and yes i am a studant attending the school at this moment in time and can i say that we arnt being closed down because of the studants we are being closed down with other schools in the area to make way for a acadamy so unless you have been into our school you cant judge us yes the figures maybe low for the grades but that was a long time ago the ridings has IMPROVED and i am proud to say that i am from that school.

Buyo said...

Before I address your points, I want to say that I feel that this post is provoking reasonable resentment among pupils at the school and that I have considered pulling it down. However, apart from the fact that pulling it down would also mean removing these students`s interesting responses, I feel that what I wrote is not actually insulting to the student body at all. I would urge pupils or former pupils to read what I said carefully. To criticise the structural issues that have bedevilled education in Halifax is not to criticise the pupils caught up in that system at all. Quite the opposite.

I do have some knowledge of the Ridings school and I have visited it on a number of occasions. I wrote the original story about the crisis at the Ridings that got national attention. (I should stress that I did not write the subsequent caricature stories that later became a feature of that coverage). I covered the Calderdale education system as a journalist when it was a national story and I saw it through its early attempts to reform itself. I state this because my right to talk is being challenged on the basis of my presumed complete ignorance. I am not completely ignorant and in some limited degree might have an oddly long term and wide angle view on this that, say, a recent pupil or teacher at the school may not have. I do accept the general point, however, that I am basically ignorant. I know very little about the current situation at the school and I am not actively covering the more general Calderdale situation as a journalist. This post, written long after my Calderdale involvement ceased, is itself quite old and I am just trying to respond to comments that come in.

That said, I object strongly to viewpoints that deny the right to have a more general public debate about public education on the basis that the speaker does not attend the school or work in it. I have explained this view in earlier comments: "We do not live in Little Britain. Public discussion has shaped our mass education system since its inception. The Ridings is part of a larger story and I and other people have every right to discuss the school's performance and contradict the media fairy tales (good and bad) that have been told about it." Let me reinforce that point: the Ridings story, in particular, cannot be removed from its political context. It has been manipulated endlessly by politicians, educationalists and commentators to supports some fairy stories about education and opportunity in our society. To say that, just as those stories are shown to be phantasmagorical, they cannot be discussed is dangerous for the future of our national (not just Halifax or Calderdale) education system. We need to get down to the structural issues and this is a way to pin the butterfly.

So, to the last comment's substantive point: "We are not being closed down because of the students. We are being closed down with other schools in the area to make way for an academy ... Yes, the figures maybe low for the grades but that was a long time ago. The Ridings has IMPROVED and i am proud to say that i am from that school."

First thing, can I say that I totally respect your pride in your school. The Ridings has been through a lot and its problems are not to be pinned on its pupils or its teachers. That was my whole point! The cowardly sophistry that has passed for a politics of education in recent decades continually fails to address the basic but politically controversial structural problems that bedevil systems like Halifax's while pinning the blame on heads, teachers and pupils. I am not against accountability in the system but there must be accountability at the top as well.

The facts are that the Ridings has continually had poor results. There have been fairy stories told about how this can be turned round and solved by the introduction of shiny new heads, sharp young teachers and expensive new facilities. Infact, the overall reason the pupils are being failed is structural (note, that I am not saying that it is the pupils that are failing, except in the narrow sense of exams) and the failure is with political leadership at the highest level. What I have just written is a bit abstract: if you want to understand the detail of why I believe this, please reread the post.

Anonymous said...

I am from that school and due to get my results this August.

I think people like you who write stories about that school are possibly the reason why students there sometimes fail, as we constantly hear that we are not good enough and it makes us feel useless.

Buyo said...

I will just copy and paste what I said in my reply to the previous comment: "I want to say that I feel that this post is provoking reasonable resentment among pupils at the school and that I have considered pulling it down. However, apart from the fact that pulling it down would also mean removing these students`s interesting responses, I feel that what I wrote is not actually insulting to the student body at all. I would urge pupils or former pupils to read what I said carefully. To criticise the structural issues that have bedevilled education in Halifax is not to criticise the pupils caught up in that system at all. Quite the opposite." If you read the post fully and the comments you will see I am not saying anything about the students in this.

Anonymous said...

Can i just ask if its not the teachers or the studants that make the school bad then what is it? I am currently in my last year at this school. Yes it's not perfect but neither is any other school and may i take the time to say there has been articles in our local newspaper sayig that the school has dramaicly changed for the better and why do people have to get involved if you have never attened the school you have never taught there then why are you getting involved in something that quite franktly doesn't involve you. Sites and people like you who what to slag our school off get me so mad how dare you say our school is bad you have taken information from the internet that were published over 6 years ago so leave our school alone. yes im from the ridings school and its the best in calderdale.

Anonymous said...

DOOMED school The Ridings is now one of the most improved in the country.

But the school – once branded the worst in Britain – will still close in July next year.

Calderdale Council made the decision to close it after it decided improvements were unsustainable, and this year is its last.

But despite this, the Ovenden secondary is boasting some of the biggest leaps in achievement at GCSE in the UK.

Exam results for 2008 show that 93 per cent of pupils achieved five passes at GCSE – up from 63 per cent a year ago.

And 64 per cent managed to get five grades A* to C – three times as many as reached this benchmark in 2007.

Every single pupil achieved at least one pass, and all have gone on to college or sixth form or found a job.

Head Stuart Todd said: "These examination results can only be described as outstanding and reflect the hard work and application the young people have shown in their chosen subjects.

"It is their drive and determination above all else that has created the changed atmosphere in the school and the culture of success for all that we now see.

"There is no doubt that the high quality of teaching now found in the school has been a catalyst to inspire so many to step forward and do well."

He said this year's students were part of the first cohort to follow a broader curriculum that included subjects that were deemed more relevant.

Their interest and success in the new lessons then had an effect on all classes, with good behaviour and aspirations increasing.

They have met challenging targets, shown in the "exponential" improvement in results.

Mr Todd said he is now focusing on the current Year 11 pupils. And he predicted: "Next summer will be higher again. Year by year we are raising the bar.

"I am very proud of the children. They have done fantastically well."

But it will still close next year and pupils may become part of a north Halifax academy.

Sue McMahon, of Calderdale NUT, said: "Questions need to be asked. Why close one of the most improved schools in the UK? It is an absolute disgrace that Calderdale Council has decided to close the school.

"Calderdale NUT believes The Ridings has been sacrificed on the altar of the academy."

Buyo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Buyo said...

I posted and deleted a response to the latest "anonymous" comments because it seemed trite and simply restated what I have already said about my position/right to speak etc.. Again, I would urge students/former students to read the post and comments in full because most of the points that have been raised immediately above have already been addressed. However, there are a couple of new and interesting ideas which I do want to respond to.

1. "Can i just ask if its not the teachers or the studants that make the school bad then what is it?" [sic]. This is a very good question. Is there something slightly intellectually dishonest about the position I have adopted? Surely, the poor results are down to either the teachers or the students in the end. Is claiming it is "the structure" just using weasel words? I don`t think so. I will use a crude metaphor:

Imagine a youth soccer tournament in Calderdale. Most of the extremely high achieving soccer players in the Ridings Utd's immediate vicinity are taken out of its team and put in two elite elevens called Grammar Utd and Crossley Utd. A number of other talented players not selected for the two elite teams leach off to other teams in the area which they think have got a better chance of competing with the elite squads. The remaining Ridings players have still have bags of raw talent but it is undeniable that the players who were banging in the goals at 11 have been taken out of the team and taken somewhere else. I ask you whether such a structure is going to encourage the best out of those not in the elite teams? When the youth competition comes around and the elite teams predictably dominate (with lack of confidence, lack of role models, lack of competition for places, etc. obviously plagueing the demoralised rump teams), would it be more rational to put this down to the players and coaches at Ridings Utd or to the "structure" of football in the town.

That is a crassly oversimplified metaphor but I think it helps demonstrate that I am not actually being intellectually dishonest/ using weasel words when I attribute the problems I am talking about to the "structure" of education in Halifax, rather than the teachers and pupils at the Ridings. Let me make one thing very clear: I do not believe that you can judge an academic talent at age 11. It seems quite absurd. I am not saying that the pupils who are left at the Ridings have no potential. Some of them have far more potential than the fellows who happened to be bagging goals at 11. (On a personal note, I know I would have failed an 11 plus selection if I had been put through it. I was fortunate enough to go through a genuinely comprehensive education. By the age of 18, I got into an elite university. Perhaps this post shows I am a dunderhead again at 37?)

2. The second issue relates to the news about the Ridings's latest results. The first thing to say is that these results are wonderful and a credit to teachers and pupils at the school. I hope, as the head says, the school gets better next year and sticks it up naysayers like me. Perhaps there are no problems at the school anymore? Perhaps all of my discussion on this post is based on a false premise? Perhaps the old Blairite idea that all you need is good teaching (and that there is no need for brave political leadership in addressing structural educational problems) was correct afterall. Perhaps all the leadership and teaching at the Ridings before the latest regime, despite all the fairy tales about superheads and super teachers, was actually inadequate. Perhaps we have at last seen the new dawn? I have to say that I doubt all this. Given my general emphasis on this problem as a structural issue, I really want to stress that what a I am about to say is not a snide attack on the pupils or the teachers who have achieved so much. However, the fact remains that the results are still substantially worse than national standards. The number of pupils achieving five A to C grades, including English and Maths, remained well below the Government's target. That is important because that target represents what the Government thinks all pupils/ schools should be able to achieve. It is not an average or some sort of aspirational target. It is supposed to be the norm. Nevertheless, the improvements are marked and I would want to explore why, if I was still reporting on Calderdale. The tendency in educational reporting is to just tell fairy tales ("It has all suddenly got better because the head is so super, the teachers so wonderful, the pupils so brill!" Which kind of implies everyone in the past was not.) But we need to unpack the facts, to really understand achievement so it can be replicated. I would be very interested to know what has changed structurally about the ongoing position of the school and whether this has facilitated the teachers' and pupils' achievements. Has there been a new intake recently? If not, did the lack of disruption and workload on teachers help? What is the pupil/teacher ratio compared with the past? Next year, will the pupil/teacher ratio be improving again etc. There is also an interesting question about whether there have been any significant changes in the nature of the curriculum and exams taken. Are the qualifications being taken more relevant to the pupils and engaging them more. (This last change, by the way, would be partly down to school leadership and would diverge from, but not necessarily be inconsistent with, my emphasis on broader structural issues). Again, this is not an attempt to denigrate the improvements. Quite the opposite: if there have been structural changes, they need to be identified because the local/national political leadership need to be put on the spot over their responsibility to set a friendly structure which allows pupils and teachers to flourish. The old fairy tale that it is all down to the teachers and nothing to do with the structure in which they work need to be dropped for good.

One last thing, I am friendly with the NUT branch secretary in Calderdale and she does a great job. I would say though that she is doing a great job in her comments on this story. It is her job to oppose school closures. There has always been passionate opposition from some parents and unions to all school closures in Calderdale. This has not always coincided with what is best for the pupils. The only thing that makes me sad is that the new structure that is being put in place for Halifax does nothing to address the fundamental structural issue: thedamaging effects of a grammar school system in such a small urban area. We will have more stories of failing secondary education in Halifax as long as schools are not able to take properly diverse intakes covering the whole range of achievement at 11.

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask a question. What made you write a article about our school that has turnedmost of the other people against us ? and because of that article it is actually your fault why we have had the bad image put across our school. Also why was the reply to one of the comment taken off i would of liked to read it.

Buyo said...

The comment I took down was written by me and I took it off because, as I said above, I thought it was trite and repeated positions I had already made clear. I thought my replacement comment was more in the spirit of true dialogue and more positively interacted with the real ideas that were in the previous "anonymous" comment (I am assuming you are the same "anonymous"). However, in the spirit of disclosure I have dug around in my comment archive and here is the deleted comment for what it is:

Again, I am sorry that this post enrages you. I repeat: I have thought about taking it down because I don`t want to offend. However, apart from the fact that pulling it down would also mean removing these students`s interesting responses, I feel that what I wrote is not actually insulting to the student body at all. I would urge pupils or former pupils to read what I said carefully (which you often seem not to be doing, if I may say so). To criticise the structural issues that have bedeviled education in Halifax is not to criticise the pupils caught up in that system at all. Quite the opposite.

1. The news about the latest results is very interesting and deserves to be celebrated. The teachers and pupils have done wonderfully. If I were closer to the story than I am now, I would want to ask if there is something about the schools pre-closing situation (ie. a structural issue, in the terms of this post) that has relieved the ridiculous burdens that the school was facing. What are the teacher/pupil ratios, for instance? What is the remaining intake? Perhaps a commenter could answer this? This is important because it gets away from the fairy tales that have been told about education and educational improvement (particularly in relation to the Ridings) and might actually put local/national politicians on the spot about things that might give pupils a better chance of meeting their potential.
2. "If it is not the teachers or the studants that make the school bad then what is it? "[sic]
As I have repeated several times, the structure of education in Halifax create the issues this post was talking about.
3. On the questions about the right to speak, please reread the post and the subsequent comments. It is important that we are able to have a public debate about the structure of education and educational improvement. A very long time ago, others made the Ridings a political symbol for a set of ideas about educational improvement which seem flawed. As for my information, please reread the post and the comments. I had an involvement in the Ridings situation.


So, there it is. I am not sure it was worth your time reading it because the points of interest are much more positively put in the comment I replaced it with.

Your point about the Ridings crisis somehow being my fault is, to be frank, hardly worth responding to. However, since it is based on a confusion that seems so rife, I will make a few comments. I am a reporter. Reporters report things that happen. Are journalists to be blamed for every piece of bad news that enters their newspapers, or is it more relevant to talk openly about the real agents and the real causes of those events? Of course journalists have some agency, but it is often quite peripheral and is often used by real actors as a smoke screen for their own errors and responsibility. This is definitely the case in the Ridings crisis, by the way.

But, returning to the general point, let's take an extreme and rather clear example: are journalists to be blamed for 9/11 because they reported it? (Actually, if you think about it, in the case of 9/11 the media does have some small causative role that it lacked in the Ridings crisis, which was not made for media consumption) Did 9/11 not exist in some real sense outside their reports? The rampant discipline problems at the Ridings happened and were, in fact, brought into the public domain by statements from local officials and then teachers union officials who, on their own initiative, contacted me and dictated accounts of what was happening. Perhaps I should have refused to go to those meetings/slammed down the phone on them/put my fingers in my ears and sung the national anthem? Perhaps I should have unilaterally declared that these facts for some reason best known to me were simply not happening and could not be reported to the public (who, incidentally, were paying for the education at the Ridings and sending their children there, and therefore had a right to know about the collapse of the school). The situation at the Ridings in its early stages was a standoff in which teachers were threatening to strike. It was a crisis in which the then leadership of the school were chucked out and replaced. Teachers lost their positions, pupils were expelled en masse, the school was closed for a time. Perhaps myself and the other reporters should have just refused to report what was going on because of some crazy rhythms going on in our own heads? Every local person reading the newspaper I worked for might have wondered why on earth it was not reporting the obvious crisis in Ovenden; they might have wondered what sort of conspiracy of silence the newspaper was engaged in. That seems to be what you are suggesting, or are you trying to say something else? Yes, there was some unacceptable journalism by some, usually national, reporters following up after I wrote my initial reports. My reports were unsensational to the extent that any reporting of those alarming events could be unsensational. I am sure I made mistakes along the way, but, taken in the round, my coverage of education in Calderdale (where I later became a local education correspondent) attempted to be in depth and informative. I was told by several local head teachers that it compared very favourably with the coverage in other areas they had worked in. The irresponsible sensationalism was the responsibility of those journalists who put it into the public domain; just as the unacceptable actions of some, but not all, officials, politicians, teachers, parents and, yes, pupils were their responsibility.

As I have said numerous times above, I do respect the anger that some students at the school feel about their school`s public image and its ongoing (though soon to end) place in public debate. That is a fact of history and comes as a result of its extraordinary breakdown and subsequent use by national politicians to champion certain, in my opinion inadequate, models of school improvement. It cannot be used by a few school leaders and representatives of a particular political viewpoint in that way and then shut down for discussion as soon as someone wants to question the fairytales when they have been exposed as such. I will put it bluntly: you seem to want to shut down all normal political and social discourse for the sake of your own narrow interpretation of your interests. The world does not work like that and, if it did, it would not work.

Anonymous said...

I'am proud to say that the Riding's School of Nursey Lane,Halifax is out of special mesures !!!!!!!!as from the 25th august after OFSTED were in the school for a 2 day period they were proud of the school and of how much it had improved this is than ks to the Year 8, year 9 and the new year 11 congratulations of your success.

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