Thursday 26 July 2012

Unmonitored Account

Dear Ms Anderson

Thank you for your correspondence to the Secretary of State expressing disagreement with his decision to support the Exemplar New Business Academy Free School project with its links to the Everyday Champions Church. I hope you will appreciate the Secretary of State for Education receives a vast amount of correspondence and is unable to reply to each one personally. It is for this reason I have been asked to reply.
I'll bet he does. Probably all of it from teachers like me wondering what the fuck he thinks he's playing at. Still, I'm miffed that the DfE couldn't even manage a form letter pretending to be Govey.
No Free School is allowed to teach creationism. The Free School application guidance published by the Department now specifically says creationism, intelligent design and similar ideas cannot be taught as valid scientific theories.
Which is all well and good, except that you have organisations like the abominable Truth In Science, who have been sneaking their resources into state-funded schools for quite some time. You say they will not be able to teach creationism, but you have not said that they have to say that evolutionary theory is the best explanation for the diversity of life on Earth. This leaves them with plenty of opportunities to criticise evolutionary biology.
Furthermore, the funding agreements for all Free Schools state that divine creation should not be taught as an 'evidence-based view or theory' (a scientific theory) in any lesson: so if a school did do this they would be putting their funding at risk. We are confident that the Free School project you mention will follow the rules, having explored these questions robustly with them at interview.
See above. This is not a strict enough definition - it still allows the teaching of what is a non-existent controversy by making out that it is critical thinking. Are you familiar with the Wedge Document?
Prior to entering into a funding agreement, the Academy Trust is required to carry out a consultation about their plans to open a Free School. Consultations can be run in a number of ways including surveys, the launch of a simple website, meetings of key individuals and open public meetings.
How many scientifically literate members of the Trust are involved with each consultation? Are any of them experts in science?
Academy Trusts also need to demonstrate that they have considered the views of their stakeholders. Most do this by publishing a report setting out the key findings of their consultation.
You could have done a lot for your transparency by suggesting where it might be possible to find these reports. You know, so we could see the key findings and assess for ourselves whether a rigorous consultation has been carried out.
Every application approved has had to demonstrate that the new school will provide a broad and balanced curriculum. Free Schools are subject to Ofsted inspections in the same way as all other state schools, and the government has powers to intervene in a school where there is significant cause for concern.
And in the same way that we invested in two dozen new waste bins, put up displays of student work and told the more "challenging" individuals to not bother showing up for a week, so any school can game the system when Ofsted come around. Unless the teacher themselves is unaware that the people who've just walked into their lesson are from Ofsted, one can always pull out of the bag what should be happening in a lesson.
Please be assured that the Department will be working with the project mentioned over the coming months to ensure that the assurances they have provided us with are honoured.
You don't actually know which project I'm referring to, do you? This is your standard response to every single letter querying the possible teaching of creationism in state-funded schools.
As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at:
I'm more annoyed than I should be that you missed out the full stop at the end of that sentence.
Yours sincerely

Guy Manly
Public Communications Unit
Come on now. "Guy Manly"? That's a made up name. Like Bloke Personage, or Dude Chaps. I'm suspicious that the publicity lot are involved with this - it implies this is more making Govey look good than ensuring the policy is enforced rigorously. I am not reassured.

1 comment:

  1. MischievousBastard26 July 2012 at 16:20

    Usual government guff. "You know it's a turd, we know it's a turd, but we'll polish it all the same, insist that it's gold and you're a wrecker to say otherwise". I'm paraphrasing slightly here, but I trust that I've communicated the gist. We had all this with tuition fees and again with Met brutality.


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