The GOS derived a certain amount of malicious enjoyment this week from the story of Kayleigh Baker, a pupil at Hurwurth School in Sedgefield - Tony Bliar's constituency. Kayleigh is 16, a prefect, already has two Grade A GCSEs and is expected to get nine more this summer. She has a 100% attendance record and a series of outstanding school reports, one of which described her as "an inspiration to others with impeccable behaviour and a totally focused attitude". Recently she received five "achievement awards" from the school.
So when the school demanded that she attend extra revision classes after school, she couldn't see the point. In fact, with the backing of her father, she refused. So the school banned her from school trips, dropped her from the netball team, and worst of all have told her she can't attend the school's American-style end-of-year prom.
This is a dreadful blow to a 16-year-old, but Kayleigh and her parents are fighting back. They believe they have the backing of the DfES which has told them the school is acting illegally: "All study support (out of school hours) activities are entirely voluntary and there should be no compulsion on young people to attend." Education legislation requires every school to determine the hours of the school day, and then stick to them. The only reason children can be compelled to stay on after school is for a punishment. One of the school governors has resigned in Kayleigh's support.
But the school shows no sign of backing down. Eamonn Farrar, its chief executive (what the hell is that? - GOS) said "We know what's best for the children."
What drives this arrogant pr*ck is the lust for league-table results. The school has won praise from Ofsted inspectors for its "very good leadership and teaching", which has led to a significant recent improvement in its GCSE results. The proportion of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades rose from 39 per cent in 1998 to 93 per cent last year. However the GOS, like plenty of other ex-teachers, can read between the lines. No school achieves a remarkable improvement like this without some pretty ruthless actions. There is every likelihood that it's not the revision classes that have done the trick - it's making sure that kids who aren't likely to perform well at GCSE just don't get entered.
The Arrogant Pr*ck denies that the introduction of compulsory after-school lessons was prompted by an unhealthy obsession with school performance tables. "If I said I run these classes because of the league tables, that would be immoral. We don't play the league table game - we just celebrate when we top them." Yeah, right.
Still, it's not all bad. The GOS has a sneaking suspicion that the school and Little Miss Perfect might just deserve each other.
For a start, her name is Kayleigh. Sorry, girl, I know you didn't choose it yourself, but that's really sad. Strike one.
Then there's the news that she's already bought her dress for the prom. She had it handmade in China, and it's modelled on the gown worn by Kate Hudson in the Hollywood film How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. Not pretentious and tasteless at all. Strike two.
And strike three? Her father is a Health and Safety consultant. I rest my case.
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