Your blog contains a number of factual inaccuracies.

I thought I’d share the Inspiration Trust’s response to my previous post:

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.

Dear Inspiration Trust,

The Learning Support Unit is clearly intended as a punitive measure (if kids are being sent there for infringements of uniform policy). N’est ce pas? In what respect could this ‘unit’ be said to deliver (a) learning and (b) support? 

This just in from a former Hewett teacher: there was, indeed, a ‘cooling-off’ room at the Hewett School. However, this was never (to the best of said teacher’s knowledge) called The Cooler. Which is in fact (to the best of said teacher’s knowledge) a term used in the popular TV series, Waterloo Road.

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.

Dear Inspiration Trust,

The tweet in which you called me abusive could likewise be considered defamatory, so I suggest you remove that before you go any further. As could the comment on our Facebook page in which you claimed I’d made false allegations and caused distress to parents and pupils. When challenged to present evidence of these false allegations you mysteriously vanished. I’ll remove the reference in the original blog post, and I’m certain that, as a courtesy, you’ll want to remove the offending tweets and comments you made about me.

You might also care to furnish us with some understanding of the decision making process behind your behavioural policy, which a number of previous staff and parents at Inspiration Trust schools have described as ‘top-down’. Especially since Ian Burchett (from Inspiration Trust) assured us that you’d adopt a hands-off approach at Hewett. Interestingly, this ‘hands-off’ approach has consisted of issuing kids with IT’s standard behavioural policy. Weird, huh? And what of your much-trumpeted understanding of ‘Hewett’s non-traditional ethos’? What indeed.

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.

Dear Inspiration Trust,

I believe that parents were unaware of the exact length of black socks required by Hewett Academy, hence there’s every likelihood that you are factually incorrect to make this statement. 

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.

Dear Inspiration Trust,

Parents did have to pay, and are paying, because you didn’t issue sufficient kit to see a child through the school week. Yes, the guidelines allow for branded items and nominated suppliers, but if you familiarise yourself with best practice you’ll see that you’re falling short of the available guidance. The previous uniform did indeed include items only available from the school shop, but trousers and skirts could be bought elsewhere (as you well know), and there were fewer items too (as you also know very well). Jumpers and polo shirts were handed down, and those who had financial difficulties could apply to the Anguish Fund for help. Since help is only available on a bi-annual basis, those who applied for the old Hewett uniform are deprived of additional help until 2017. Is that a factual inaccuracy? I’m happy to be corrected if so.

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.

Dear Inspiration Trust,

Leaving aside the report prepared by HaslamDodd (which is full of emotive language) can I please ask now for those present at the consultation meetings to comment below if they had any clue whatsoever that HaslamDodd were carrying out a consultation on behalf of the Inspiration Trust? If it was made clear, then it was clear as mud. It was certainly never made clear that HaslamDodd saw the consultation process as a chance to put across the ‘IT vision’! Parents and community members should feel happy to correct me if I’m wrong on this point…

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.

Dear Inspiration Trust,

The email correspondence makes clear that Inspiration Trust’s role in the appointment of these staff members went far beyond an ‘advisory’ capacity, and frankly I’m amazed you can claim this is ‘wholly inaccurate’ when De Souza is referring to ‘Principal Leverage’ (before the consultation process even begins) and asks if she can introduce ‘our’ new appointment. Sorry, re-introduce. Can you explain this proprietorial stance if Inspiration Trust weren’t already calling the shots at Hewett? Indeed, am I correct in thinking that a great deal of expenditure (including the appointment of HaslamDodd) was drawn from a pre-academisation grant awarded to Inspiration Trust several weeks, or months before their acquisition of the Hewett School? What chance did we ever have of changing the outcome of the consultation, if Inspiration Trust (as I understand it – correct me, of course, if I’m wrong, and I’ll remove this statement) were already spending the money allotted for Hewett’s academisation?

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.

Dear Inspiration Trust,

You know this is a minor point; you know that the CNFT and Inspiration Trust operate differently; you know that 2000 people petitioned against you and that 80% of respondents to the questionnaire carried out by HaslamDodd said ‘no’ to your acquisition of the Hewett School. You keep banging on about these tiny details when the larger point remains: the majority of us did not want you. We told you that openly, clearly, a number of times. Jonathan Haslam agreed at our final consultation meeting that he would have to report to the Secretary of State that the audience had voted unanimously for Inspiration Trust to back away from our school. Why weren’t we listened to? You seem amazed and angry that parents continue to feel hostility towards you. See it from our point of view for a second, please. This was not a voluntary process. You were forced upon us. You claimed you’d be ‘hands off’ at Hewett, that you respected our non-traditional ethos. And what are you doing now? Exactly the same as you’ve done in all your schools. You didn’t mean a word of it, did you?

Correct me if I’m wrong about that.

An unspun truth is a frightening thing.

I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who trusts this government to have their best interests at heart.

I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who trusts this government’s friends and associates to have their best interests at heart.

I’ll tell you why, shall I?

Until recently I was a certified Nice Person™. I once turned the music down because my cat was trying to sleep. I made a crying student smile by showing her pix of Emergency Kittens. I move snails out of the way on dark, wet nights and I try my darnedest to be there for my friends when they need me (sometimes fail at this, I admit) and I tell my daughter every single day how loved she is, and how utterly gorgeous (because I know what it’s like to grow up thinking you’re sort of slightly rubbish).

This week, however, courtesy of our lovely government, I discovered that I’m hostile and intimidating. Courtesy of the government’s lovely friends and associates at the Inspiration Trust I discovered that my behaviour is abusive. Along with the participants in two other hard-fought academy campaigns, my fellow Hewett chums and I were allowed to be openly maligned on a government website and in a press release the same day.

Mwa ha ha ha ha! De Souza, Agnew, and Academies Minister Lord Nash chuckling it up at our expense. And they're coming to a school near YOU.

Mwa ha ha ha ha! De Souza, Agnew, and Academies Minister Lord Nash chuckling it up at our expense. And they’re coming to a school near YOU.

Don’t the government have rules they have to follow? You’d think so, wouldn’t you. You’d think it wasn’t acceptable for the Department for Education to quote mistruths from Dame Rachel de Souza with absolutely no right of reply from the ‘small but vocal’ (2000 people petitioned against them) ‘politically-motivated’ (as if the mass privatisation of education isn’t politically motivated) campaigners who made life so incwedibly difficult for poor Dame Rachel and her Tory chums. Because, after all, how dare we stand against them? How dare we Hewett oiks defend our own school, paid for by local taxpayers, from the filthy marauding hands of private business? How dare we?

What Theo Agnew thinks every time he looks at our oik-ish faces.

What Theo Agnew thinks every time he looks at our oik-ish faces.

Well, the thing is, you see – we did dare. We did dare to say, actually, hang on a flipping minute, we don’t want our entire school system to be privatised, thanks very much, and this feels like a fight worth having – not just for the sake of Hewett, but for education in general. After all, as a wise man once said: ‘If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.’ So we did dare, and we continue to dare (because as long as they’re educating my daughter, I will continue to hold that bunch of crooks to account whenever I see fit, thanks very much).

So, yes, we defended our school. And, yes, we felt hostile towards the people stealing it, as people generally tend to do when their own property is being prised from their gradually loosening fingers by people who already own giant swathes of the Norfolk landscape, and – here’s the really amazing thing – they didn’t pay a penny to acquire it! In fact, yup, they were paid to steal our land. They were paid by you and by me. They continue to be paid by you and me, and they’re pissing the funds away on Vera Wang tea sets and Hugo Boss chairs and jollies to New York for meetings with education ‘experts’ who advocate things like this (skip ahead to 5.55 if you want the fright of your life, whilst noting that comments are disabled for this video, because that’s how Inspiration Trust tends to roll):

I’m abusive, according to the folks who run Hewett Academy’s social media, because I dared to voice dissenting views on a public internet page (’tis how the internet works, you rusty old bunch of farts – and if you’re going to call me abusive you’re going to provoke rude language; ’tis how human nature works):

Screenshot 2015-10-22 09.26.39

You can read my response to this tweet (which, taken out of context, is misleading – natch) on our Facebook page, now called the Hewett Parents’ Forum to reflect the fact that, you know, the vast majority of us hostile and intimidating folks are just parents. Parents of the very kids the government is claiming to protect by instating their chums and buddies in our state-owned, council-run, accountable schools.

And here's my daughter's ballsy response to their nonsense. Proud to have a daughter who's courageous enough to  speak against authority.

And here’s my daughter’s ballsy response to their nonsense. Proud to have a daughter who’s courageous enough to speak against authority.

So let me tell you what I’ve learnt in recent times: the government (and their chums) do not give sweet FA about your kids, or about you. If they gave sweet FA about you or your kids they would actually listen to your community voice. They would meet with you and your kids in a fair, friendly forum to discuss the needs and wishes of you and your kids. Rachel de Souza has never never ever ever visited Hewett parents or pupils. NEVER. Theodore Agnew, the chair of Inspiration Trust, has never never ever ever ever visited Hewett parents or pupils. Rachel de Souza told Hewett teachers she’d been ‘after us’ for ages: we’re the ‘jewel in the Inspiration Trust crown’, with our glorious 54 acres of land, and it’s just the perfect size for embryonic Charles Darwin Primary, the latest feather in the IT cap, although they cannot, of course, possibly comment on this.

Perhaps you're thinking: Hmm, she *is* a tad hostile. Well, listen – you'd be hostile, too, believe me, if you'd found yourself ignored, belittled, and lied to for this bloody long.

Perhaps you’re thinking: Hmm, she *is* a tad hostile. Well, listen – you’d be hostile, too, believe me, if you’d found yourself ignored, belittled, and lied to for this bloody long.

Please note the failure to reply to my second tweet… So often were we met (on twitter) by the sudden sound of silence from IT in the aftermath of any awkward (i.e. truthful) tweet, that a running gag sprang up at their expense:

This is their tactic: happy to poke their heads above the parapet for cheap ‘victories’ (minuscule inaccuracies in a campaign comment), sarcastic remarks, or government-sanctioned slagging-off; heads buried down in their murky foxholes whenever we tiptoe close to the truth in an ‘uncontrolled’ forum, i.e. social media. De Souza wouldn’t come near me on our local news show, Look East, in spite of the fact I was there in the building, ready and waiting to speak to her on the hook-up from London. And why? Because, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson, she can’t handle the truth. 

An unspun truth is a frightening thing for these people who pick riches from the public purse. It’s important to them that the public look elsewhere while their pockets are in the process of being picked.

And, hence, you’ll be told in the coming weeks and months that perfectly good and decent schools are failing or coasting (coasting sounds nice, though? Don’t you think? A happy, peaceful place to be, as opposed to an Ofsted-haunted gibbering wreck) and you’ll be told that Downhills Primary was physically attacked (when, in fact, the only thing the lovely and tireless Downhills campaigners ever did of a physical nature was stick a cheeky plaque on the side of the school) and you’ll be told that Hewett campaigners were hostile and intimidating and abusive. You’ll be told that the DfE ‘saw sense’ by gifting our school to the Inspiration Trust, and that our buildings were in disrepair (yes, they were, because the government refused us money to repair them), and that pupil numbers were falling (thanks in part to the government-funded opening of two new schools by… can you possibly guess? By the Inspiration Trust).

You are a free human being. You live (for the time being) (sort of) in a democracy. You can make up your own mind about this. You can swallow the government line if you want to. You can say, well that Lynsey woman – maybe she is a bit bolshi and, god, she’s always swearing and writing rude things about willies, and those nice folks at the Inspiration Trust are (mostly) Catholic, aren’t they? Good Christian people. And surely, surely, the government wouldn’t lie to us?

Or you could read this, from local councillor Emma Corlett, where actual unspun truths are told. And you could read this from the Guardian, reporting on the Shadow Education Secretary’s recent findings. And you could read this extraordinary blog with lots of icky statistics in it – the sort of unspun ickiness the Inspiration Trust is so afraid of.

And you could ask yourself why they are hiding? Why did Rachel de Souza refuse to debate me? Why did she never set foot in our public ‘consultation’ meetings? Why do they go all coy when they’re asked something difficult?

The truth is powerful. And that’s why they’re scared of it.