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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Is it down to individual head teachers or is there a single point of decision making in the Council's Education dept? Am a bit worried that schools are being used by the council to strike a blow at the government.

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I’m sorry to hear about your experience, not all heads are created equal, and I’m sure yours has strengths and weaknesses. I understand it’s easy for stances and views to become opposing and entrenched, but I would say that one of the reasons school boards of governors have parents sitting on them is to communicate with parents and the community, and address issues they feel need addressing. So can I suggest you and the parents in agreement speak to your school’s parent governors in an honest and constructive manner. Who knows, the school may use it as a positive and constructive learning opportunity. And if not, at least you’ve tried. But entering into a discussion might/should be a positive interaction. 

Clearly you've had a poor experience at your school, for which I sympathise (and you should definitely feed that back to the school's senior management and/or governing body), but framing this as "local authority bad, Academies good" is as equally misguided as assuming the council are using schools as a political conspiracy against central government.

I am the first to batter the council when they cock up (frequently), but this isn't one of those occasions. DfE have said it's safe to reopen schools (whether that is sensible is not the debate here), and Haringey have facilitated, to the best of their ability, schools doing that.

For every example of sub-standard approaches by LA schools, I would stake a large sum on finding a similar level of mediocrity from an Academy (or Multi-Academy Trust). Equally, some LA schools have been brilliant - from Christina's experience it sounds like St Mary's is one of them.

My headteacher and her school business manager (at an LA school) have worked themselves into the ground over lockdown to keep the school open for key worker children (as legally obliged), and to prepare for reopening in some form. They've done all they can to keep children safe, parents informed and learning going, and I couldn't heap more praise on them for the attitude they've approached it with. So, to borrow a phrase, "not all LA schools..."

EDIT: I think I've replied to the wrong bit of the thread here, but hey-ho...

My brothers girl goes to a halv posh school and been getting normal classes on the computer. Get what you pay for

The teaching unions tried to call the shots, but a million pupils went back to primary schools last week after an 11 week hiatus in the UK.

About half of those eligible pupils turned up. I think this is quite an achievement given the scaremongering of teaching unions and their cheerleaders on Labour's Left. 

Of 25 councils that refused to reopen schools last week, 21 are Labour run. These councils pretend it was a matter of safety but I think they are using the lives and welfare of children as chips in a contemptible political game. 

As several studies have shown, it's not only education but also mental health that suffers when children are robbed of the stimulation of classwork and the socialising influence of their friends and teachers. It is the most vulnerable pupils who will be left behind. 

Those who live in Haringey's cramped high-rise flats with no outside space. Those whose parents are unable or unwilling to help with home schooling. Worst of all, those in a violent or abusive household. Aren't these exactly the children Labour and the unions claim to champion? What hypocrites they are. 

Thankfully many parents won't be cowed or deterred. The great school return has begun and will grow, for all the bleating and sanctimony of the teaching unions and Labour councils. 

Okay Nell, let me break this down for you, point by point. First of all, all schools have been staffed and open to key worker children throughout this pandemic, as has been a legal requirement, so virtually no schools have been reopened. This has included the Easter holidays and summer half term.

The teaching unions approached the government three times during the lockdown, asking to discuss the safe opening of schools, to do this in a collaborative manner, as a team. Their letters were ignored by the government who refused to discuss with heads, teachers or unions how to open schools safely. The first anyone outside of the cabinet or Department of Education heard about the wider opening of schools was the Prime Minister's press conference. Can you explain how trying to engage in a discussion that was ignored and rebuffed is "trying to call the shots". Would you not think it might have been a good idea to discuss reopening of schools with the people who staff the schools? That seems a sensible course of action, rather than mandating requirements. This is good management vs bad management. Have you looked at the 5 tests the NEU was hoping the government would meet before the wider opening of schools? They're really not unreasonable. (https://neu.org.uk/neu-five-tests-government-schools-can-re-open)

"Half of the eligible pupils turned up". Can you tell me where you got those figures? Because no official figures have been yet published by schools or the Department of Education. (That claim has been fact checked here: https://fullfact.org/education/one-million-schools-uncertain/) That was based on a small survey of parental intention. Of course, sending children back is a result of decisions made by parents, not teachers, who have made a decision about the government's handling of the pandemic crisis and applied that to whether they think schools are currently safe for their children and their families. And by "scaremongering", do you mean, pointed out that the government haven't met their own, safety targets regarding reopening schools (risk level still at 4 and R rate), and mandated it against the advice of their own SAGE committee, who recommended nine different scenarios for the safe opening of schools, none of which they took? It's interesting you have interpreted parental agency as a reaction to scaremongering. 

The opening or not opening of schools to more children is solely, 100% a matter of safety, nothing else. It's a shame you can't see this, because if it's not a matter of safety then you are suggesting that unions, councils, heads and teachers are keeping children home, often in danger, often hungry and in danger of falling behind in their education for political reasons, and that really is an outrageous slur. And it's difficult for me to communicate how in error you are in this position. If you think that any teacher would rather have their class at home right now, rather than in the safety of their classroom, with a school meal in their tummies interacting with their friends and receiving high quality teaching, you have made a fundamental error in your judgement of teachers and I encourage you to educate yourself a bit more. No teacher goes into education to cause harm to the children in their care to score political points. No teacher wants their school closed. They just want them to be sure they are open safely. Where do you think that your poor regard of teachers has come from Neil? Do you know any? Have you discussed this with any? Have you listened to their perspective on this matter? Generally, they're pretty good people who have chosen this profession for altruistic reasons, not a sense of political militancy.

I totally agree with the studies. I agree children are at risk. I agree this is a terrible, terrible thing. All teachers agree with this. All teachers want schools fully open. But only when it's safe. 

Again, I agree that these children should be championed, but why do you suggest this is a political issue? Do Conservatives not champion vulnerable children? Why not? All teachers want to help disadvantaged children, and wanting to be sure they return to a safe environment is endorsing and reinforcing these values, not showing hypocrisy. If we want children to be safe, we want to be sure the school they are returning to is safe. And that's a fundamental issue.

Again, saying parents won't be "cowed or deterred" I find strange. Parents have a decision to make whether they think schools are safe to return to after every Year 6, Reception and Year 1 child has been offered a space in the wider opening of schools. Parents who choose not to send their children back are making a value judgement based on how safe they think schools are, combined with where the nation is currently in the response to coronavirus and the current infection rate and R rate. This isn't political. Parents haven't been asked to make a decision on how the government has responded to coronavirus, they are deciding do they think schools are safe to return to. They have responsibility for their children and have to be certain they've made the right decision, as the consequences for a bad one are dire. 

I'm clearly not going to change your opinion on this, Neil, but maybe I can make you consider a little more the other side of this issue. Teachers didn't create the pandemic, and like everyone else, they are doing their best to react to it. All teachers want schools open as soon as possible, but only when they are certain they are safe for children, school staff and the wider school community. I think that's something that should be lauded, not criticised. Child welfare is not a political football to be booted about, but a serious issue where we need to find consensus, collaboration and agreement. Is it safe to return to school isn't a Labour, Conservative or LibDem issue, it's apolitical.

I can only make a plea that you try to empathise with the teachers position, and reiterate it's child safety, not political ideology which are motivating decision making here. Have a good day!

I shall ignore the bait and just point out that for all your bleating about Labour-run councils, Haringey HAS carried through the government's reopening plan, so all this is moot.


I can’t reply in thread to this point in one of your comments but I would like to say that your experience is not universal to parents at that school.

You say “it would be nice really if I was the only one who has this experience but it's a common ongoing grievance among the parent community”. My child goes to the same school as yours (I know from a previous post) and my perception is quite different to yours.

I’ve checked the letters we have had relating specifically to Coronavirus (rather than any additional comms) and we received letters through sms on: 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 26, 31 March,  3 April - then it was the Easter holidays from 4th to 20th of April so in this time we received just one letter on 17 April - 21, 24 April, 4, 12, 14, 18, 21 May, 1, 3, 5 June. This to me doesn’t match your complaint of “weeks of no news”. Are you signed up to receive these letters? - if you didn’t then email the office to update your contact details.

In terms of the lack of concrete plans in all of them I don’t really know what you expect. Advice and guidance from the Gov are changing all the time I don’t see any point in the teachers communicating ideas for the return to school until they know what years are due back so they can look at these year groups specifically. I think the government’s choice of reception, year 1 and year 6 was an unexpected choice of first returners but if, prior to that announcement the school had announced how they would get years 6, 4 and 2 back (for example) it would now be completely irrelevant.

The school are now in contact with parents of the years that are returning to let them know the plans in more detail. If your child(ren) is not in a returning year I don’t think we should expect a plan for the return to school because we don’t know when it will happen and in conjunction with what other years. This doesn’t mean that the school aren’t working on plans and contingencies.

I’m not saying don’t hold them to account if you feel they are managing things very badly, but I think our expectations are quite different and given that we are in completely extraordinary circumstances not of the school or councils making I don’t think they are doing as bad a job as you have implied. And you certainly don’t speak for all parents of the school which is why I felt it was important to reply with an alternative view.

Rory, your response was very balanced and useful. Thanks



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