Forum Message

Topic: Response to Ann re Ark at AHS
Posted by: Ansa Sheikh
Date/Time: 10/05/18 18:18:00

Thank you for taking the time to explain things from a different point of view. I would like to reply, citing some of the things that were explained to me and a group of other parents who met with the NEU representatives (reps) and striking staff last week at AHS.

Now that the head and deputy have been suspended and there is an investigation under way, I donít think there is any point in discussing this matter further. They clearly did not have the schoolís best interests at heart and I, for one, am glad we can now move forward. From what I have heard, it is usually Arkís policy to retain a SLT as that helps with the transition from LA to the trust.† Personally, I very much hope the current SLT are left in place.

Ark probably wouldnít know much about the school as I think they were approached. I am glad that they are willing to spend time coming in and getting a more comprehensive understanding of the school than coming in with their own preconceptions and ideas about what they are going to change. It is not in Arkís interest to let AHS fail. Why would they take on the school? It makes no sense to be dubious of their intentions and whatever questions you have, put it to Ark in the same way we are. You are the teachers in the school and have every right to ask your own questions. The NEU represent you, you donít represent them so ask everything that is on your mind but ask it of the right people.

Ark Soane was in the planning stages for a while before Ark was approached about AHS. To my mind, having an Ark academy less than 500 yards from AHS only reinforces the need for a strong and established MAT to come to AHS. The school will lose pupils at an alarming rate if left under the LA. I donít think there will be an AHS in a few yearsí time. The school has a deficit of £400K that they have carried forward from last year. Next year it will be worse as pupil numbers will be down unless something radical but proven happens at AHS. The school is currently staffed at a ten form entry intake. Full capacity for a year 7 intake is 270 pupils but a few weeks ago, it was at 170 and now itís falling fast and thatís not solely because Ark are coming in as the NEU would have us all believe.†

When we met with the NEU reps, they cited the loss of jobs when Ark come in. We were asked if we could look at the staff who would lose their jobs in the eye because they had mortgages and children too. The fact is that there has to be a restructuring at the school regardless of Ark and jobs will, very sadly, go. There are too many staff for the number of pupils and there isnít the money to support the current level of employees. It is the responsibility of the SLT and Governing Board (GB) to manage the budget with due diligence, especially when in deficit and especially when the deficit will continue to grow in the coming years. Almost every school is facing this crisis to some degree.

From speaking to a few staff at AHS, a number of teachers are leaving for a number of reasons, not just Ark. In the same way that parents feel fatigue at the failings at AHS, I have been told that staff feel fatigue at the chaos that has reigned and, as stated in this monthís The Teacher, ďa culture of nepotism and intimidationĒ. I think we are all fed up of this merry go round and just want to get off. The only difference between staff and pupils is that staff can look for jobs elsewhere, whereas spaces in good schools in the borough of Ealing and surrounding boroughs are non-existent.† I donít mean to sound flippant, I have worked in schools and know what it feels like to be attached to a school and the pupils but speaking purely in terms of numbers, a teacher shortage in London means jobs are available but school spaces are not.


With regards to not settling for the only choice AHS has, thatís a valid point but no other MAT was willing to take on AHS. Various trusts were approached and all turned AHS down. They knew Ark were opening down the road and they didnít feel that they could compete. There was also the issue of the building being a PFI, which most trusts arenít interested in.

From the conversations I have had, even though Ark was the only option, the SLT and GB felt it was a good option because it allows autonomy. Each Ark academy functions as its own independent school, unlike schools under some other MATs. They have thirty six schools, twenty four of which were in special measures and none of them are anymore. They have the proved record parents are looking for.

The suggestion that the NEU could run the schools with the LA and get it up to a desirable standard for potential sponsors confuses me. Why wasn't that happening already? Why weren't the NEU members working towards that the whole time?†

When I sit in a meeting with NEU representatives and I hear that 30% of staff are not implementing procedures brought in by the teaching and learning deputy head, the only question that comes to mind is ďwhy not?Ē. Do 30% of teachers think they know better than the person brought in to improve teaching and learning? Does this 30% also include the teachers who have been at the school so long that they feel no-one has a right to question their methods?† I would be interested in seeing these teachersí assessment results and observe their teaching methods.

From a parentís point of view, if itís a question of 30% teachers unwilling to take on board new strategies vs 30% NQTs who follow the strategies, I know what I would choose for my child. If teachers donít listen to people above them, why should pupils listen to teachers? If I didnít listen to the people above me in my work place, I suspect at some point they would want me out. If, however, I could prove that I am beyond competent, and that would have to be evidence based, then perhaps those same people would be willing to hear me out.

Iím sorry to say but this was just one illustrative example which made me think that if left to the NEU, this school would not be run for the benefit of the children there. Other examples are the seemingly ever-changing demands of the NEU. First, we were told in that meeting that the reasons for the strikes was that Ark werenít coming to the table. Last week, the NEU was informed that Ark were willing to come to the table and TUPE was postponed as a result. So, why are strikes continuing this week? It is mid-May, public exam season and you are all playing God with these pupilsí lives.

There were also two other issues on the ballot paper which are being dealt with and the NEU don't seem to have made any concessions for these but seem to be demanding an awful lot from everyone else.

One final point about trusting the NEU to improve the school. There has to be some collective responsibility taken for the sub- standard results and attainment levels at AHS. Where has the NEU been to help get the standards up in the past? Very few parents would be willing to approve of what seems like an experiment with our childrenís education. Who will you be responsible to if you fail? Who will get the blame then?

At the meeting Mike Willmott told us that the teachersí current contractual hours were 8.30am to 3.30pm and that after Ark come in, it would be 8am to 5pm (this is to the best of my recollection). Marking would be done outside of these times but given the minimal amount of homework my daughter currently gets, I donít think itíll make that much of a difference.

We were also told that full sick pay would be reduced from 100 days to 25 days. As someone who is self-employed, I donít get 1 dayís paid sick leave. Nor do I get paid sick leave if my child is sick. And though my working day is set around schools hours, most parents I know work from 9am to 6pm.

So yes, I agree, of course everyone needs a work-life balance but hours under Ark are not pushing that balance over the cliff edge. Surely, most teachers work those hours already? Though Iím not a teacher, I worked from 8.15am to 6pm most days when I worked in a school.

On the upside, at least schools holidays would remain intact.

Of course, parents want enthusiastic and engaging teachers but similarly, we want teachers with integrity. All the striking teachers are being paid on the days they strike by the NEU. None of them seem to be on the picket line beyond 9.30am. They are receiving money not to work and donít even have the integrity to stand by their actions. Where are all these striking teachers on these strikingly warm and sunny days? How can you expect parents to trust any of these teachers come September? There probably will be a large number of teachers leaving but if you ask parents now, as a result of the teachersí behaviour, the parents are willing to see them go. The good ones who have integrity and/or are not striking will stay, they are not stupid.

With regards to a broad and varied curriculum, that is a very important point and I will do some research into the curriculums most commonly found at Ark academies.

We do all want the same thing but when parents are faced with: inaccurate leaflets inciting people; a ďSave Our School rallyĒ planned for 16th May; calls for a march down to Ealing Town Hall; striking teachers targeting locals in the town centre, at train/tube stations and most abhorrently, at primary schools, it is very hard to see how a balanced debate can follow.

Personally, I would like to see the discussion between Ark and the NEU/teachers. Some of your claims are alarming and I can't understand how the thirty six Ark academies are fully staffed when conditions sound so hellish.

This strike is about the terms and conditions for the teachers (by no means an unimportant issue). Stefan Simms told us so at the meeting. If the NEU get their terms and conditions met, they will call off the strike and all conversations about the pupils; the SEN pupils; the community; the behaviour management policies; the Ark ethos; the Tory hedge fund spin and so on, all that will be put to one side. Itís gobsmacking how you are all willing to use all these issues to get people on side but when the chips are down, they mean nothing.†


Entire Thread
TopicDate PostedPosted By
Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!07/05/18 20:17:00 Mil Bazelkova
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!09/05/18 00:03:00 Ansa Sheikh
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!09/05/18 14:18:00 Debbie Carmichael
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 17:45:00 Sophie Bevan
         Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!16/05/18 10:35:00 Chris Brennan
            Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!16/05/18 10:41:00 Ansa Sheikh
   Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!09/05/18 19:46:00 Ansa Sheikh
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!09/05/18 20:06:00 Ann Smith
      Response to Ann re Ark at AHS10/05/18 18:18:00 Ansa Sheikh
   Re:Re: Real names please.09/05/18 20:33:00 Bob Little
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!09/05/18 21:46:00 Mil Bazelkova
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!10/05/18 15:52:00 Eddy Leviten
   Ark Elvin09/05/18 22:56:00 Tania Bapuji
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!10/05/18 22:54:00 Ireen Esmann
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!10/05/18 23:22:00 Ansa Sheikh
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!10/05/18 23:50:00 Ireen Esmann
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 07:00:00 Mil Bazelkova
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 07:00:00 Mil Bazelkova
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 07:53:00 Ansa Sheikh
         Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 08:28:00 Eddy Leviten
            Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 11:36:00 Andy Jones
               Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 13:22:00 Jo Poole
            Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 13:34:00 Ansa Sheikh
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 13:00:00 Ireen Esmann
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 14:43:00 Veronique van den Hof
         Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 14:58:00 Mark Evans
            Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 15:54:00 Ansa Sheikh
               Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 16:28:00 Mark Evans
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 14:34:00 Ireen Esmann
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!11/05/18 16:01:00 Eddy Leviten
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!12/05/18 08:53:00 Debbie Carmichael
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!12/05/18 09:35:00 Ansa Sheikh
         Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!12/05/18 21:10:00 Mark Evans
            Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!12/05/18 23:02:00 Ireen Esmann
               Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!13/05/18 11:55:00 Mark Evans
                  Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!13/05/18 18:06:00 Ireen Esmann
                  Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!13/05/18 18:39:00 Ansa Sheikh
                     Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!14/05/18 09:30:00 Mark Evans
                        Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!14/05/18 11:15:00 Ansa Sheikh
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!14/05/18 11:45:00 Ireen Esmann
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!14/05/18 14:38:00 Debbie Carmichael
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!15/05/18 11:07:00 Ansa Sheikh
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!14/05/18 17:34:00 Katharine Bourner
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!14/05/18 20:54:00 Ireen Esmann
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!15/05/18 08:08:00 Mark Evans
   Stop the strikes!15/05/18 09:01:00 Mil Bazelkova
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!16/05/18 12:40:00 Adam Starkey
      Stop the strikes!16/05/18 14:07:00 Mil Bazelkova
         Re:Stop the strikes!16/05/18 14:18:00 Ansa Sheikh
            Re:Re:Stop the strikes!17/05/18 16:25:00 Mil Bazelkova
               Re:Re:Re:Stop the strikes!17/05/18 17:51:00 Ansa Sheikh
                  Re:Re:Re:Re:Stop the strikes!17/05/18 17:56:00 Ansa Sheikh
                  Re:Re:Re:Re:Stop the strikes!17/05/18 18:10:00 Jo Poole
               Re:Re:Re:Stop the strikes!17/05/18 18:14:00 Eddy Leviten
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!18/05/18 09:44:00 Debbie Carmichael
      A breath of fresh air19/05/18 08:43:00 Mil Bazelkova
      A breath of fresh air19/05/18 08:43:00 Mil Bazelkova
         Re:A breath of fresh air19/05/18 09:02:00 Ansa Sheikh
            Re:Re:A breath of fresh air21/05/18 08:14:00 Tania Bapuji
               Re:Re:Re:A breath of fresh air21/05/18 09:08:00 Ansa Sheikh
               Re:Re:Re:A breath of fresh air21/05/18 09:15:00 Ansa Sheikh
   Re:Re:Re:A breath of fresh air05/07/18 10:41:00 Paul Webster
   Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!18/07/18 06:14:00 Simone Smith
      Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!18/07/18 08:33:00 Tania Bapuji
         Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!18/07/18 17:42:00 Chris Hurley
            Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!18/07/18 20:26:00 Debbie Carmichael
               Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!21/09/18 15:59:00 Chris Hurley
                  Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!22/09/18 00:31:00 Ansa Sheikh
                     Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!22/09/18 10:30:00 Peter Evans
                        Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!22/09/18 13:07:00 Rosco White
                           Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it may be!25/09/18 10:48:00 Kim Bobsin
                              Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it is turning to be!27/09/18 21:32:00 Mil Bazelkova
                                 Re:Acton High School-one parent's perspective on what a better school it is turning to be!28/09/18 12:00:00 Ansa Sheikh

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