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):

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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.

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Non, je ne regrette rien.

Yesterday, after a long and often bruising fight, we ‘lost’ our campaign against the hostile academisation of my daughter’s school, the Hewett in Norwich.

Except we didn’t lose. We didn’t lose, because we couldn’t lose. It’s impossible to lose, in my opinion, when the other side is cheating.

The moral victory is ours: we played by the rules; they didn’t.

We proved to them, via a publicly funded consultation, that Inspiration Trust was unwelcome at Hewett.

They ignored it.

We spoke unanimously against them at our final public meeting.

They ignored it.

The Guardian newspaper leaked revolting email correspondence between the two worst offenders in this hideous stinking mess – Rachel de Souza, the CEO of Inspiration Trust, and the board’s chair Theo Agnew – in which de Souza described herself as SICK at Hewett’s Ofsted success in 2013. Was the school ‘vulnerable’ again, she wondered, when exam results later fell? Agnew remarked on her ‘cunning ways’.

They all had cunning ways, as it turned out: not only de Souza and Agnew, but all of their chums too: Lord Nash, the Academies Minister; Tim Coulson, the Regional Schools Commissioner; Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education. They all had their fingers in pockets and pies, and the stench of Tory cronyism is strong in Norwich today.

So I’ve woken up this morning with one or two regrets. I’m regretting the fact that gagging clauses and widespread fear meant that so few Inspiration Trust teachers were able to go on the record with the shocking stories they told me in confidence. Perhaps I should have got naked and chained myself to the railings or thrown myself under de Souza’s chauffeur driven car or the hooves of her Tory chums’ polo ponies. I’m regretting the ratio of food to alcohol in my life last night, when I slunk to the pub in the rain after helping to cover the gate of our school in Crime Scene tape, and regretting the paltry amount of sleep I’ve had for the tossing and turning and nightmarish visions of this...

Smugshot.

Smugshot.

I’m regretting the fact that Look East cut me to ribbons last night and gave squirming and gurning de Souza free reign to suggest that I’m some kind of numbskull who just hasn’t seen the light yet. She admires our passion. She hopes (gurn gurn) that we’ll later become her biggest supporters. (The words: ‘dead’ and ‘body’, ‘not’ and ‘over’ spring to mind.)

But there’s one thing I’m not regretting…

I’m not regretting this campaign. I never will. Look what happened last night, with an hour’s notice. All of these lovely people arrived in the absolute pissing rain, and they stood in support of our school. They brought banners and signs.

Screenshot 2015-08-06 08.51.08

Screenshot 2015-08-06 08.36.24

A supporter made this, in ‘honour’ of the Hewett’s new logo (rustled up within 24 hours if you believe the bastards at Inspiration Trust):

Hewett crime scene 2

We hugged and talked and commiserated. We spoke to reporters and had our pictures taken and wiped the drizzle from our faces and, later on, went to the pub and got drunk. (Well, one of us did…) Someone (who won’t allow me to name her) did something just beyond lovely for me, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart. Hewett kids and Hewett parents and local residents stood proud in the rain. Our school isn’t perfect. We’re not perfect. But we’re something else, something better: we are decent human beings.

I have met the most astonishing, amazing, and good-hearted people in the course of this long and hard campaign (too many to name individually, although Jo and Emma deserve special mention). I have found my own voice again (it was down the back of the sofa for most of 2014), and watched other people find theirs. I have tweeted and blogged and written emails and stood shouting in school halls and gone on the telly box and the radio and flung my whole self at this campaign, and the reason I’ve done all this is quite simple: it was the right thing to do.

Unlike the delightful Dame Rachel, I’m not a believer in God. But I reckon if he did exist, he’d be on our side. He’d have been outside those gates getting soaked last night (or, possibly, stopping it from raining at all…).

So the Inspiration Trust may have stolen our school, but you know? Be careful what you wish for. Because we come with it. We’re not going anywhere. We are Hewett. And this is only the beginning.

19 reasons we want Inspiration Trust to do the goddamned decent thing and back away from Hewett. (You won’t *believe* no 9!)

A bunch of noobs called Inspiration Trust (who’ve been in the edukashun business since way back in the dim and distant days of 2012) want to ‘sponsor’ my daughter’s secondary school, the Hewett in Norwich. (Translation: snaffle the 54 acre site, valued by the Local Authority in 2009 at £60 million.) Here’s why they shouldn’t.

1. This email from their CEO Rachel de Souza, describing herself as ‘sick’ at a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating for our school.

2. This twitter convo with the Guardian’s education correspondent Warwick Mansell in which they go all coy, suddenly, about their future plans for the school’s 54 acre site.

Funny how it's 'all hypothetical' when challenged on a point of squirmy fact... yet they're happy to advertise no 3 on their website weeks in advance of the consultation even *starting*...

Funny how it’s ‘all hypothetical’ when challenged on a point of squirmy fact… yet they’re happy to advertise no. 3 (see below) on their website weeks in advance of the consultation even *starting*…

3. The fact this was on their website (see above) before the consultation even began. 

Investigations 'under way' for a high level sports facility...

Note bullet point 2: Investigations ‘underway’ for a high level sports facility…

4. These minutes from a totally impartial meeting with our IEB (Interim Executive Board: the peeps parachuted in by the lovely government after they kicked out our own school governors – by email! – and refused the IEB put forward by Norfolk County Council. Sounds legit.) Inspiration Trust are so terribly nonchalant and blasé about Hewett’s 54 acre site that they didn’t even think to mention it at the meetings they shouldn’t even have been invited to – oh no, wait, hang on! They did kinda sorta mention it…

You bet your ass there was a 'discussion'. I'm speculating here but, 'Get those chavs off my bloody land!' is the way I imagine it unfolding...

You bet your ass there was a ‘discussion’. I’m speculating here but, ‘Get those chavs off my bloody land!’ is the way I imagine it unfolding…

5. The fact that our ‘consultation’ was more of an insulting con.

Because HaslamDodd ran the consultation meetings with all the impartiality of a foot fetishist contemplating someone's toes.

HaslamDodd ran the consultation meetings with all the impartiality of a foot fetishist contemplating someone’s toes. ‘You’ve said enough already,’ as Sheree Dodd was fond of remarking.

6. Because the ‘independent consultants’ running our consultation said they publicised the meetings as hard as they possibly could, honest guv…

Because they said they publicised the meetings as well as they possibly could...

But they actually didn’t (love how the meeting was advertised in the local paper the day before…):

Because that wasn't actually true.

7. The sorry excuse for a questionnaire provided to us by HaslamDodd. It was (a) shit and (b) mostly written by Inspiration Trust themselves. And (c) there was no paper copy sent home with Hewett pupils which, hello, would have been an obvious move if you were genuine about widespread consultation. But who am I? Certainly not a firm of taxpayer funded ‘independent’ consultants.

For ‘The IEB regarded it as very important blah blah’ read: ‘Rachel de Souza regarded it as her god-given and inalienable right to waste taxpayer money on a marketing exercise’.

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Naturellement I pointed this out to them on The Twitter.

8. Because even though the consultation found eighty percent were against Inspiration Trust it still isn’t good enough for them…

Fave quote from one of ’em:

‘Deciding on the proposed changes to the Hewett School is not about a popularity contest or about making symbolic gestures – it is making sure the children of Norwich get the best possible start in life… Changes are needed to restore the Hewett to the full, bustling, and great place it once was, and we believe the Inspiration Trust has an important part to play in that transformation.’

You can read my response to them here.

Eh? Does that mean we can re-run the election cos of the silent majority?

Eh? Does that mean we can re-run the election cos of the silent majority?

9. The unbelievable truth that the civil servant who gets to decide the school’s future is a personal friend of Rachel de Souza…

Can you Adam and Eve it?

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C5RCqcLN_ajQdUghQXJx9vVGHtY8oSqQ5vQJeAlmoh8

10. And the gobsmacking fact that the Academies Minister, Lord Nash, is a personal friend of Sir Theo Agnew, the chair of Inspiration Trust. (Oh yes, and Theo also chaired the Department for Education’s Academy Board until Gove ejected him recently to cock up the home office instead.) Let the back scratching commence!

Chortling IT

Here they are chortling together outside Isaac Newton Sixth Form, housed in the old fire station and gifted to them at a knock-down rent by one of their millionaire mates. Sir Theo of Agnew is on the left of the picture, Lord of Nash beside him. Who’s that lady? Oh, it’s Rachel de Souza of course! Mwa ha ha ha ha.

11. His Majesty Sir Theo of Agnew’s usage of the vile phrase ‘cunning ways’ in reference to the Machiavellian machinations of Dame Rachel. (For sauce, see the Guardian article in no.1.) (Apologies, I meant source. Of course.)

12. The fact that Norwich has been telling them to sod off for months.

Hundreds of us marched in protest. Two thousand of us signed a petition against them. What does it take?!?!

Hundreds of us marched in protest. Two thousand of us signed a petition against them. Are they thick-skinned or what?!

13. The fact that Her Royal Dameness Rachel de Souza is a tiny bit chickenshit, let’s be honest.

RdSprivate

14. This chock-full-of-platitudes response from Education Secretary Nicky Morgan (in the run-up to the election):

nickymorganballs

I rewrote it for her cos I’m nice like that.

15. The fact that Inspiration Trust were allowed to write the advertisement for Hewett’s head teacher before the consultation began. (I’m sorry: assist in writing it. Excuse me while I go slap my wrist.)

16. The fact that Inspiration Trust SUCK at snark. (Although much respect for the lovely kids in this video and I’m genuinely glad you’re doing so well. Sorry that IT saw fit to use you as emotional blackmail.)

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17. The fact they think this is a good use of taxpayer money. Skip ahead to 5.50 if you want the fright of your life.

18. The fact that Inspiration Trust are evicting a brilliant Sure Start centre (my old nursery, peeps) that’s been around (in one form or another) since 1939:

EEYC

Sign the petition here to help save EEYC: http://www.clivelewis.org/saveeeyc

19. Last but not least… because Hewett kids are fab and do fab stuff like this.

Need I go on?

*As you will have noticed, there was nothing particularly shocking about no 9. ‘Twas nowt but a cunning ploy. What’s good enough for Buzzfeed/Upworthy is good enough for me.