[Warning: the following blog contains the statement that several children were given detention for having the wrong length socks in PE class. Before you go any further, I must advise that they may, in fact, have been wearing the wrong colour socks. Rest assured I’ll be wearing a hair shirt for the remainder of the day.]
I wish I wasn’t writing this.
I wish I was writing my novel instead (2841 words on day 19 of NaNoWriMo = epic fail, as the youngsters say) but sometimes (often, lately) a thing needs saying and none of the usual channels for saying this thing is available (for a number of reasons) and hence you resort to writing a blog in your sheer bloody frustration at people’s stupidity.
Because, yes, it is stupid to send a schoolchild to isolation for having her nose pierced: especially stupid when two days ago, at the end of school on Friday, said piercing was perfectly A-OK with the Powers that Be. It is stupid to send home a 5-page pamphlet on the school’s new behavioural policy (since becoming an ac*demy with the Inspiration Trust), documenting the sort of interventions any right-minded teacher would thumb their nose at (and please, for the love of God, do high school kids need rewarding with gold bloody stickers? I think not.) It is stupid to give the majority of a [edit kindly suggested by Inspiration Trust] PE class detention for wearing the wrong length socks.
If you don’t think it’s stupid, then have you considered the possibility that you might be stupid?
It’s especially stupid to name the isolation room the ‘Learning Support Unit’, thus linking forever in every child’s mind the unfortunate concept that ‘learning support’ is a kind of punishment. (This paragraph has been edited to remove a statement considered defamatory by the Inspiration Trust and replaced with a cheeky otter instead.) )
And you know what else is stupid? The ravishing new uniform, with the owl-in-a-taco-shell logo (kudos to the person who left that comment on our Facebook page) attached to one tit (as Travis in If… would have it). It’s utterly, totally, maddeningly stupid that the school (sorry, ac*demy) have spent £60,000 on cheap ugly tat, like a wet dream in a polyester factory, and – potentially contravening the government’s own suggestions for best practice [with thanks to Inspiration Trust for the edit] on this matter – they’ve handily ruled that all items may only be purchased from the school approved supplier.
You might think they’d want to build bridges with the community from whom they’d just stolen a 54 acre site worth upwards of £60 million. You’d think – since everyone already had black skirts and trousers – that maybe it might possibly be a teensy bit sensible to retain black as the primary colour if changing the uniform (the uniform they claimed they wouldn’t change…) since our school isn’t known for its wealthy parents, and maybe they could have consulted those parents on what sort of expenditure they felt would be acceptable. I mean, why not do those perfectly simple and sensible and decent sorts of things? If you’ve genuinely got the community’s best interests at heart and all that.
But they haven’t. They don’t give two hoots (apologies: crap owl joke). We already know they have issues with telling the truth, having sat through a sham consultation – at taxpayer expense, hurrah! – conducted by several white men in dark suits (see below), and two women: Sheree Dodd of the inventively-named media consultancy firm HaslamDodd and Rachel de Souza of Untimely Email Deletion Notoriety).
They claimed that our new head teacher and deputy head were not appointed by Inspiration Trust. I repeat, they were not appointed by Inspiration Trust:
And they claimed that HaslamDodd were an ‘independent’ firm of ‘independent’ consultants offering ‘independent’ and ‘impartial’ services as ‘independent’ and ‘impartial’ facilitators of the wholly ‘impartial’ consultation procedure.
And yet… and yet… rather curiously, here’s an email from Jonathan Haslam (released as part of my Freedom of Information request) in which HaslamDodd offer their services in what seems to be a PR role to Inspiration Trust:
I could go on.
I won’t. I can’t be arsed. It’s depressing, and sad, and unfair.
And now Inspiration Trust have our school, and they’re busily boxing our kids into Enid Blyton-shaped holes.
It’s got sod all to do with their education. It’s got sod all to do with raising standards.
It’s got everything to do with ensuring that children do as they’re told. Don’t stop, don’t think, don’t ask, don’t voice an opinion.
If your hair is dyed red, or your fingernails are painted, you’re no longer welcome in a classroom at the Hewett Academy.
If you have an ‘extreme’ hairstyle you’re no longer welcome in a classroom at the Hewett Academy.
If your make-up is less than ‘discreet’, you’re no longer welcome in a classroom at the Hewett Academy.
If an item of your uniform is missing you’re no longer welcome in a classroom at the Hewett Academy.
If you’ve purchased an item of uniform from the wrong supplier (i.e. a cheaper one) you’re no longer welcome in a classroom at the Hewett Academy.
I think this stinks.
For some kids, make-up and hair dye and piercings are fiercely entwined with their sense of identity, their sense of self-esteem. For a child with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, for instance, the sudden cessation of everything that makes him or her feel safe or comfortable could have horrible consequences. Teenagers aren’t really known for their confidence: why would you want to dent it still further, unless to feed your own petty hunger for power?
And, honestly, seriously, truthfully… why does it even matter if somebody’s nose has a ring or a stud in it? Why do you care? Is your faith in your own educational ability so thin and minute that you place all your emphasis on banning slap? Are you really so threatened by difference?
If so, how pathetic.
In my (un-humble) opinion, your face is your own face, and no school has jurisdiction over it.
If it’s identikit kids the Academy want, they can go buy a Lego kit. The Hewett kids are individuals. And long may they remain so.
7 thoughts on “Do as you’re told.”
Incisive (and funny) as ever.
It’s like my 1970s school days all over again.
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Your blog contains a number of factual inaccuracies.
1. There is no “isolation room” at The Hewett Academy. When operating as the Hewett School there was an isolation room, called “The Cooler”. This approach is not used by The Hewett Academy. The Learning Support Unit has two members of staff present to support pupils working outside of their normal class, alongside any other pupils temporarily working in the unit.
2. Behaviour policy in each school is a matter for the senior leadership team of the school. It is not set by Sir Theodore Agnew; your reference to him is wholly without foundation and could be considered defamatory.
You choose to focus on the disciplinary aspects of the policy, but completely ignore the praise and reward aspects that provide positive encouragement to students and are working well.
3. It is factually incorrect to suggest an “entire PE class” was given detention for “wearing the wrong length socks”. This did not happen. Some individual pupils were given detentions for not wearing the correct uniform, after having several weeks notice of the new uniform.
4. The uniform does not contravene government guidelines. Both the Department for Education and Competition and Markets Authority guidelines allow for branded items and nominated suppliers. The previous school uniform included items that were only available from the school. All existing pupils received a free set of the new uniform so parents did not have to pay.
5. Haslam Dodd reported independently to the Interim Executive Board for the statutory consultation, and the consultation report accurately reflects the comments raised during that process. The decision to proceed with academisation was not made by Haslam Dodd or the Inspiration Trust, but by the Department for Education.
Haslam Dodd also carried out a parallel non-statutory consultation on behalf of the Inspiration Trust. This was made clear during the consultation process.
6. The Hewett Academy principal and vice principal were appointed by the Interim Executive Board. As is entirely consistent with Department for Education guidelines and was openly discussed at the time, the Inspiration Trust met with candidates and advised on the appointment as the likely future sponsor. To suggest otherwise is wholly inaccurate.
7. Nothing has been “stolen”. The Hewett site was voluntarily transferred from Norfolk County Council to the Central Norwich Foundation Trust, an independent charitable trust, in 2010 at no cost. The site was transferred from the CNFT to the Inspiration Trust – also an independent charity – in September when the Trust took over responsibility for the school from the CNFT.
You’re a factual inaccuracy.
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at what cost?
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“No Isolation Room” – just a room for isolating students.
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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…
Alleged factual innaccuracies aside, I think your article highlights many of the problems with the UK education system. Fundamentally, a system that values conformity and control over creativity and free thinking. The stuffy retort by The Trust themselves above pervades exactly the air of arrogant litigiousness that one would expect from such people.