The fourth is in the form of a response written by a year 10 Tallis student. I don’t need to repeat the brutality of that story.
News Story 1: ‘Elite Sixth Forms’
Eton and a group of successful academies called the Star Academy trust intend to bid in the next wave of free schools to open ‘elite’ sixth forms in Dudley, Middlesbrough and Oldham in 2025. They will provide “knowledge-rich teaching from subject-specialists; access to talks, academic essay prizes and debate clubs; Oxbridge-style tutorial sessions and the chance to learn Latin”. They will also be subsidised to the happy tune of £4000 PER STUDENT on top of the funding we all get.
I’d like to set a few essay questions on this topic, if I may? 20 marks a pop.
- If Eton need £4k more per child to do a good job, what are the rest of us supposed to do with just the taxpayer’s shilling?
- What is the alternative to ‘knowledge-rich teaching from subject-specialists’ and, for the love of Mike, what do they think the rest of us are doing?
- What are extant local sixth form providers meant to do when their results plummet because the elite have lured a particular group into their gold-plated lairs?
- What would happen if all 6F providers in the poorest areas got an extra £4k pp?
- Why perpetuate the language of elites and Eton-gets-you-into-Oxford? What is preventing Gasworks Comp form getting children into Cambridge who are suited to that kind of education? (The answer may be in the question.)
News Story 2: Lord Agnew’s champagne.
‘Agnew famously said in 2018 he would bet any headteacher “a bottle of champagne and a letter of commendation” his advisers could find savings in their schools – and likened himself to “a pig hunting truffles” in his pursuit of efficiencies. [but] …… cost-cutters failed to identify savings at more than one in ten schools they visited, new figures show….When asked if Agnew had in fact sent those schools a bottle of champagne, the DfE reiterated, “opportunities were identified in these cases but they were not costed or reported.”’
- Discuss Agnew’s working hypothesis that all HTs mismanage budgets.
- Locate the missing champagne.
- Will Roberts have to stop writing about this now?
News Story 3: The Chair of the Social Mobility Commission doesn’t know what the Social Mobility Commission plans to do.
- Why not?
- Who does?
But the fourth news story cannot be treated lightly.
Today at Tallis we held an act of solidarity for Child Q. This is the speech that a 15-year-old girl wrote and read to our community, at break.
In North-East London, a 15 year old black girl went into her school to take a mock exam. Her parents put their trust in the school to keep her safe but instead... they accused her of being in possession of drugs. They searched her. Called the police and allowed her to be strip searched without her parent’s knowledge or consent.
This happened because black children are often not seen as innocent. And not even seen as children.
No one should EVER have to experience such harmful actions caused by racial bias.
The safety of children and education are basic rights. Fairness shouldn’t have to be fought for. No matter the race, gender, class, abilities, or beliefs of anyone. Dignity is for all. It isn’t fair that we aren’t the first generation to fight for our human rights. But we can strive to ensure that we will be the last.
So what are we doing to change this? If we are being persecuted in our youth and we do nothing about it, then are we any better than the persecutors? What happened to integrity?
Martin Luther King's dream is still only a dream but we can make that OUR reality. We stand for equity, for it is a necessity no matter identity. I want to live in a world where everyone feels safe around the police and not fear an abuse of their power. Where adults advocate for children. Where anyone can excel. For that to stop happening we have to remove these stereotypes from the media, from our curriculum, from what we say, the way we treat certain groups or certain people and even the jokes we make. Small things can make such a big difference once we apply them to everyday life.
We can all make a change now. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a major change. We can be an ally. We can demonstrate solidarity with Child Q. Napoleon Hill once said...“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way”.
Stand in solidarity with Child Q and respond to our call of ‘we deserve better: we can do better’.
And so we did.
I’ve seen a couple of children wearing splendid origami crowns this week. I’d like to give every child one, to demonstrate that we respect them, protect them, take them seriously and try to build a better world for them.
The composite news story of the week has been of division, arrogance, indolence, brutality and a blinkered refusal to see the big picture we are all painting for young people. We are a very long way from changing the world for the better. I don’t have any more words for this.