Friday, 20 May 2011

Dagenham Park School - Barking Mad?

Yesterday at the airport they were giving away The Daily Telegraph free with a bottle of water. Or maybe the other way round, but it was the water I wanted. Still, I read the paper.

A 12 year old boy had been kept in isolation for a whole day at Dagenham Park School because he wasn't wearing his blazer - and there was an OFSTED inspection in progress. But 12 year old Robin had a reason for not wearing his blazer - his arm was broken, encased in a plaster cast which would not pass through his blazer sleeve. His mother had previously written a letter to explain the problem ( clearly, she already realised some pretty disturbed people were in charge of this institution).

The boy's mother, Mrs Button, phoned the school to protest at the boy's day-long isolation and so for the next two days of the OFSTED inspection he was released from the slammer but required to carry a blazer over one arm - the bad arm, since he needed the good arm for books and so on.

If The Daily Telegraph report is true (Google shows that the story has been widely reported) then OFSTED should fail Dagenham Park School and put it into Special Measures. On what grounds? It is clearly run by people who are barking mad - and, if not, so cowed that they will stop at nothing to pander to Education Minister Michael Gove's fantasies that all will be well in the world so long as children look like advertisements for a 1950s Prep school.

As it happens, I was flying to Geneva when I read this story. I was working but during an afternoon break, sat outside in the sunshine. Lots of children were passing - there must have been a school nearby. I guess they were 9 to 13 year olds. All of them had back packs, many were using little scooters, none were wearing school uniform of any kind whatsoever. Clearly, a country on skid row.

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