Thursday, May 05, 2011

East Dulwich Forum,640809,663554#msg-663554

Thanks for coming back on this Fuschia. The politics of the situation are wrong, they always have been, that is not directly what concerns me. What does concern me that there should be more, better accessible education available. I cannot change the system but can work within it and I AM listening. It's unfortunate that the limitations of a forum like this can cut sympathy, empathy, emotion out of the tone of posts and if I come across as belligerent rather than determined to help effect some positive change in education then I'm sorry for that.

In my life I'm a parent first and a publican second. My work is all about people and, because of this I have become very active in community matters in Camberwell and SE5. I set up SE5 Forum for Camberwell in 2003 with a grant I raised from UnLtd specifically to begin to address the patent inequities there are in this part of London when it comes to regeneration. In a separate place because of the tenure of the lease I own on a pub I have become a vociferous political campaigner standing up for the rights of publicans against the country's bullying pub companies who have destroyed Britain's heritage of pubs as centres of community. In that position I am one of the founder members of the Fair Pint Campaign In that arena I have been, along with many publican colleagues, accused of being a radical extremist, a commie, a lefty and a lot more nonsense when, in fact, what we are demanding is a fair opportunity to compete and to trade on a level playing field against big companies in a highly competitive marketplace.

Far from having contempt for teachers, I have enormous respect for them. Many of my close friends are in state school secondary education, even more are in primary. My partner of sixteen years is a teacher, I am a governor at my children's school, a local, successful state primary. My parents were both teachers, my father a head teacher and county education advisor, my mother worked at national level on educational policy for further education and my own political leanings have been well left of centre all of my life, which remains the case. Without exception, ALL these people I know in teaching severely criticise the education system in Britain not for its aspirations but for its actuality.

I'm in my early fifties, when I was at school in Newcastle in the 60's the background discussion about the failings and unfairness of secondary education was much as it is now. I have seen wave after wave of parents through the last thirty years go through the stress, angst, hand wringing and basic fears about the future for their children as their eleventh birthday approached. I have seen parents and their kids, working class to wealthy middle class go through the mill in exactly the same way as have this year's wave of unfortunates. The difference for me this year is that it's MY kid who's getting a totally crap deal, and the children of a LOT of other people I know too whose class backgrounds span the gamut, and my personal circumstances mean I have some time to apply to trying to change something that's patently badly wrong.

Getting 'behind' an existing failing school is not my cup of tea - it simply would not come to anything. Getting behind a new proposition that starts from scratch with the ambition to provide a really high quality educational experience for children of all backgrounds CAN work. Anyone who had been a fly on the wall of one of the steering group's meetings would be amazed at the commitment and determination to get this done, and the discussions, please believe me, are ALL about doing this working class children. That's good enough for me and it would be good enough for my eldest child, who's likely to miss out on such an opportunity of a high quality education that the Michaela Community School can provide to local kids. It won't change the whole world but it will increase the chances of the lottery for people who otherwise have little chance of winning the opportunities they deserve...

Got to go prepare for this evening's meeting...

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