Posted on 02/07/2014

So wrong

Let me begin by saying how deeply sorry I am for you all. Speaking as a dad I am so sorry that you parents have to go through the trauma of not having certainty of where your son will go to school in September. To you boys, I am saddened that there is now a possibility I will not have the opportunity to get to know you and see you develop into the self-disciplined, ‘gutsy’, well rounded young men I know you would have become; excelling academically, creatively and on the sports field. To the staff, as outstanding practitioners, you don’t deserve this! On every level the Department for Education’s decision yesterday not to let us open in September is so wrong.

From an educational point of view it makes no sense. The department have consistently led us to believe over the last year that we were on track for opening in September. We were the first school to have a pre-opening Ofsted inspection which we passed (far easier than the vast majority of schools we were told). The Department said our School Development Plan was the ‘most refreshing and reflective school development plan they have seen’. Our Education Brief they said was, ‘the best we’ve come across – detailed, apposite and comprehensive.’ They have asked our permission to use our policies as examples of good practice in other schools. The staff we have appointed are all outstanding and have really bought into what we are trying to do. Some are re-locating to London because they see this as something special. One is making a side-ways move because in her own words ‘she is excited about being able to develop a truly 21st century science programme for boys’. Together we have put together a curriculum and co-curriculum which is geared to bring out the best in boys.

From a community point of view FBS is a huge loss. Fulham and Hammersmith need an outstanding, academic boys’ school. Why pull one that is up and ready and raring to go? One that has pledged and gone on record as saying that if it is anything less than outstanding then we have not delivered. And by outstanding we don’t just mean according to Ofsted but by other measures too, including the positive impact we have on the local community.

But first and foremost, as a human being it seems so unfair. It is too late in the day to make such a traumatic decision. You cannot tell parents on July 1st (just two weeks before the end of term) that their son cannot go to the secondary school they had been promised. Neither can you tell teachers after they have resigned from their previous post that they haven’t got a job for September.

The future of a school that would have been the pride of the borough should not be prevented by flawed processes and red tape. The role of the Head and the governors is to put together an outstanding school. According to the department, we have. It is the role of the Department and the Education Funding Agency to ensure that the school can be housed, temporarily and permanently. In February they told us they had. Yesterday, it would appear they hadn’t. Humanly, communally and educationally, so wrong. Which is why we will fight on…

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