Wednesday, 11 March 2015
anyone notice there's an election coming? it's time to kick a teacher
aaaand here we go again! It's election time, so I thought I would cast an eye into the pit of darkness that is Reading, UK. Well, a pit of darkness politically, anyway, otherwise it's an OK town, and one I was pleased to live in for 21 years, still the longest I have lived anywhere. My children went to the excellent E.P. Collier primary school there, and went on to the comprehensive school north of the Thames called Highdown. I thought the school was OK, but neither of them did. My older one had left by the time Tim Royle took over as head. He was excellent in my view, and I was very pleased to be able to introduce him to the then Education Secretary David Blunkett back at the end of the 1990s. Later (I do not say the two events are connected) Tim Royle became a national leader in education, and the school improved a lot under his leadership. Well, there were those who did not like that, and Tim Royle found himself accused of fraud. Fortunately the charges were thrown out, but the darkness remains. Tim Royle was not the first head teacher of that school to be pushed out and accused of misdeeds. When that happens (a previous head this happened to, Alan Furley, is now dead, and the things that were said at his funeral (I was there) would make your hair curl) there is dark muttering in Reading Labour Party (a number of teachers are Labour Party members, and one former Highdown teacher, Jan Gavin, is a councillor) from those who claim to know all about What Has Really Been Going On. You'd think, wouldn't you, that if councillors had real concerns about what was happening at a school they would investigate and try and do something about it, in the interests of the pupils and of education in the town? No, it doesn't work like that. So, only a few people at the heart of Reading Labour Party know why two head teachers have been variously attacked, dismissed, and dragged through the courts on trivial and trumped-up charges. I think they should tell us.