Tuesday, 30 October 2007

End of the Ridings

There was a sorry inevitability about today's announcement that the Ridings School in Calderdale -once dubbed the worst school in Britain - is finally to close. Despite the temporary improvements brought about by some good head teachers, the school has lacked the conditions necessary for improving a failing school: its greatest problem has been an inability to have a broader intake, partly the result of a selective system but also a reflection of a reputation from which the school has never truly recovered. Eleven years ago, the Ridings was a symbol used by the Conservatives to show they were tough on failing schools - I had to spend a lot of time on the phone to the local Labour council leader making sure they welcomed the intervention rather than attacking it. The politics of addressing school failure has changed a lot since then, though clearly the local NUT remain in a timewarp, imagining that the best solution would be to keep the school open, even as its pupil numbers dwindle and only 4% get five good GCSEs with English and Maths. Today those pupils will benefit if an Academy is established which has the chance to attract a broader intake than the Ridings ever could.

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