Lord Adonis once said that,
‘Innovation is a prime purpose of free school academies, and has been since the launch of the academies programme’
And which common place person would dare to disagree with him? There is, after all, a reason why this former Minister of State for Education earned his peerage. Just as surely as there is a reason why Mr Greg Martin, having taken his school from moral failure to outstanding brilliance, was awarded his knighthood.
Can I just pause for a minute to thank the headmasters of the following Lambeth primary schools for also having a hand alongside their teachers in the improvement of their schools? Let me see, there’s Clapham Manor Primary (rated as outstanding),Henry Cavendish Primary (outstanding), oh, and Allen Edwards Primary (also rated as outstanding). Then there’s Glenbrook Primary (rated as good), these are all good schools, none of whose Heads appears to have been awarded with a peerage as yet, though in the future who can say? The quality of education in Lambeth’s primary schools is such that teachers are falling over themselves to teach there;one rarely hears of young teachers serving out only two months of their time, and then going to law in order to air their grievances, unless of course that school happens to be the Durand Academy. The teacher concerned found herself forced to consult with her union, and then had to take her case (which she had won), to an Employment Tribunal. Whereupon she then had to apply for a County Court Order, in order to force the school to pay her the sum which had been awarded to her by the Employment Tribunal.
Had I been a fresh faced university graduate this amount of unpleasantness would have put me off teaching for life. But worse was to come, the poor NQT found herself dragged before the General Teaching Council in October 2008, at the bequest of the school who accused her of professional misconduct, in that they alleged she had failed to work out her full notice. Miss Newall may have had right on her side but the Durand Academy had Carter Ruck Solicitors, which makes the outcome all the more remarkable, for the charges against her were thrown out, and the General Teaching Council went on to say this,
“We heard much evidence about the management of Durand School in this hearing which concerns us, in particular regarding the way induction and school teacher’s pay and conditions were managed. It is not our function to deal with such issues but we note our concern”.
Interestingly Lambeth Council had prior to this expressed concerns to the school, with regards to the drop out rate of its NQTs. Lambeth overall had a drop out rate of 1%, this contrasted starkly with the Durand Academy, who between 2001 and 2006 recruited 101 NQTs, 39 of whom failed to complete their induction year, a drop out rate of about 40%.
A line might have been drawn under the matter as regards Miss Newall, were it not for her father who enraged at his daughters treatment, had made a number of allegations which, alas, he could not prove. Again the Durand Primary & Middle School instructed Messrs Carter Ruck and Mr Newall found himself obliged to render the school’s headmaster an apology, and in the words of Carter Ruck Solicitors’
‘All costs that could be recouped, given Mr Newell’s financial situation, were paid to Durand [Academy]’
The Durand Academy has admitted to incurring £387,00 in legal costs as a result of pursuing legal proceedings against Miss Newall and her father. But that is as nothing when one contemplates how much was spent on issuing legal proceedings against Lambeth Council and its auditor (I’ll touch on that some other time).