Saturday, 16 October 2010

Snuffy out, but not snuffed out!

A week ago I posted the clip of Miss Snuffy at the Conservative party conference.

With follow-up information there, I related how Katharine Birbalsingh had been sent home by her school, and was then permitted to return to work the following Monday - which was five days ago.

Now, I had realised that this wouldn't be the end of the story, but I was quiet while events were unfolding in order to give all sides a chance to reconcile their differences and find a sensible way forward.

Alas, that has turned out not to be the case, and Miss Snuffy has now resigned from the academy school in Camberwell - or (as Cranmer believes) was probably pushed. This is a real pity, because as any follower of Miss Snuffy's now-defunct blog will know, the lady was the best thing to impact inner city schools such as those found in London's Camberwell.

Indeed, that very school's most recent Ofsted report makes for unhappy reading: its "Inspection judgements", found a couple of pages in, rated it the lowest possible score for overall performance (i.e. how good a school it is) and the next to bottom rating for prospects for improvement. That assessment was dated April of this year, several months before Ms Birbalsingh joined as Deputy Headteacher in September.

Their best hope for tipping the balance toward that improvement has now gone; and it does rather suggest that the powers-that-be who are running the school have no desire for actual improvement. They were probably able to tick a lot of politically-correct boxes under the previous government, so perhaps had previously been spared such a condemnatory Ofsted assessment until the truth eventually caught up with them.

I don't know: I haven't delved into the school's full history, but whatever the story is, there is clearly something very much amiss at that establishment and it isn't going to fixed any time soon, from the way Ofsted judged its prospects for sustained improvement, though I hear that had been some improvement even before Snuffy arrived, so perhaps all is not lost.

What will happen next no-one is likely to know as yet. His Grace is "angered beyond words" and had already promised to act in such an eventuality. That will probably turn out to be something quite remarkable, I strongly suspect. However he will be facing some very powerful forces, if the first comment to an earlier Cranmer post on the same subject is accurate: Common Purpose involvement (which seems likely, by the way).

As for Ms Birbalsingh: it will be difficult for her to find a new job in this Socialist-dominated area of work. Once her book is out, perhaps it will be possible for Snuffy to start her own school, a "free school" under Michael Gove's new scheme, drawing like-minded teachers from elsewhere to join her and become the flagship inner London school and staff to whom all others will thenceforth be compared. With all the publicity and political credibility that the lady and her cause have now garnered, it would become more-or-less impossible to avoid showing-up schools that fail to provide at least a comparable standard and methodology.

Now that would be a real achievement, not only directly in her own school but also indirectly through dragging others up to a similar standard and thus benefiting far more children than would have been possible any other way. If Miss Snuffy goes down this route, it could well end up being the single most effective element in the correction and improvement of this nation's education for at least a generation!

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