Stu­dents pay price for head’s strug­gle

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

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

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