Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Stoke and standards
St Joseph's College in Stoke-on-Trent is up in arms because of plans by the local authority - whose education and children's services functions were so bad that the government forced the council to outsource them to Serco - to shut the college as part of a planned reorganisation which will see the number of secondary schools in the authority cut from 17 to 12. Now, there is undoubtedly a good case for cutting the schools and replacing a number of them with Academies, through the Building Schools for the Future programme. But one has to wonder whose daft idea it was to threaten St Joseph's in the process. Interestingly, it is not a diocesan school - and the head is clear that the local Catholic archdiocese has said it already has enough capacity with two other Catholic schools in the area. But with a value-added score (for some reason ignored on the school's own website) above average and a rating of 'good with outstanding features' by Ofsted, this school could be a lead partner in any imaginative BSF arrangement. The council should be careful not to allow ideological objections to the school's grammar status to outweight the potential for a deal that would benefit far more Stoke pupils. After all, they clearly need all the help they can get to raise standards.