Students pay price for head’s struggle
How refreshing it was to read the excellent letter from Nick Fysh (Teaching Harmed By Political Interference, KE, February 4) relating to the falling exam results at the North School.
I would like to fully endorse everything stated in the letter, which was obviously written by someone who knows and cares about education. I find it rather offensive that “superhead” Jon Whitcombe is blaming his failure to improve results on the previous administration, an administration that was given neither time or support to rectify whatever “problems” were identified following the Ofsted inspection of 2013.
Your readers should be reminded this administration achieved 42% of pupils achieving five A*to C grades at GCSE – before the “superhead” arrived.
After the school was taken out of special measures, the exam results fell. I believe that results were then predicted to rise. Instead they fell by another 12%. One wonders whether the exam results would have fallen if the previous administration had been allowed to continue.
I have not worked at The North School but have taught at similar non-selective schools. In my experience, students need a large degree of stability and making wholesale changes is a sure path to disaster. Based on what seems to be the norm in Kent these days, a head teacher with such poor results would be removed from post. Having put him in place, perhaps Kent County Council does not want to be seen to have made an error in judgement.
Mr Whitcombe does have rather an unenviable record. The Chaucer School in Canterbury was closed under his leadership. Pent Valley School in Folkestone is under serious threat of closure under his leadership. The North School has tumbling exam results under his leadership. Is he taken to task? Apparently not.
As the “top man” he has to put his hands up and take full responsibility for these failures. If I were a parent of a student at The North School who had taken GCSE exams in the last two years I would be very angry, and wanting explanations, not excuses.
Students who maybe did not achieve their potential were badly let down and the person in charge at the time has to take responsibility for that.
Sadly, it appears that education is no longer about the welfare and development of every individual young person. Instead it has turned into big business, with huge academy consortiums being paid large amounts of money to run these schools.
The real losers are the students. When someone has a good idea and directs all of the available funds towards the teachers and pupils in the classroom instead of into the pockets of a few people, it might improve our flagging system. Jenny Raper Ashford not confuse “speeding” with driving recklessly. It also pays to remember that probably 15,000 vehicles use this road every day, that do not crash, yet you demonise all drivers for the mistakes of a tiny minority.
If you choose to live in a rural location, do not expect pavements and so there will always be added risks to consider if you choose the road over the many dedicated footpaths that criss-cross the countryside.
Often people complain about “speeding” but in reality they are talking about the increase in traffic, which is set to get worse as we become the housing estate of Europe. Terry Hudson Russell Drive, Whitstable