17 Apr 2024

Brent Green Party backs Save Byron Court Campaign


Martin Francis spoke briefly at Monday's demonstration outside Byron Court Primary School to back the campaign to save the school from  being forced to become an academy.

Government policy is that all schools should eventually become party of a MAT (Multi-Academy Trust) and are assisted in this policy by a law requiring forced academisation of local authority schools if they are judged Inadequate by Ofsted.

This is what has happened to Byron Court but campaigners argue that there were particular circumstances that led to the Inadequate judgement that are now being addressed by a Rapid Improvment Group (RIG) that involves the Brent School Improvement Team. They want the school to be given a chance to make the necessary changes and improvements and then be reinspected to demonstrate that progress has been made.

Parents are very clear that they want to remain a community school and not part of the Harris Federation of schools founded by a carpet boss with a CEO on half a million pounds a year. In a Federation local democratic oversight would be lost.

Martin told campaigners that the Green Party had long opposed academies as representing a democratic deficit and a form of privatisation. Greens also want to abolish Ofsted which has become an instrument of government policy and with its summary one word judgements and stressful inspection regime that contributes to destabilisation of schools. Exams of different types now dominate primary schools making pupils some of the most examined in the world - early years asseement, phonic tests, multiplcation tests and SATs at aged 7 and 11. The tests are 'high stakes' because they determine much of curriculum time and narrow the curriculum in many schools pushing out more creative subjecrs such as drama and music.

Green Party policy would abolish SAT tests entirely and establish an Entitlement Curriculum so that all pupils would have a broad and creative curriculm - education for life, not test scores. 

SAT scores are used by Ofsted, even before they visit the school, to establish an initial view of the school and so play a part in the inspection process, leading to schools feeling they have no choice but to concentrate on teaching for the tests, often against their professional judgement of what pupils really need. Behind this is the fear of 'failing' an Ofsted inspection leading to an Inadequate rating and forced academisation. 

So bringing all schools back under local authority oversight, abolition and replacement of Ofsted by a more collegiate system, abolition of SATs to allow for the creative curriculum that children will thrive on are all part of a distinctive new policy for education.  Schools will establish their own assessment systems aimed at improving individual pupils' learning rather than providing a data set.

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