Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Joan McVittie, Head of Woodside High School in White Hart Lane

An excellent Today programme this morning, with so many interesting items that it is hard to decide which should be singled out.

The only jarring point was a discussion between Joan McVittie, Head of Woodside High School in White Hart Lane in north London and the Bishop of Oxford.

Joan McVittie openly told us that she had decided to ignore the law in the school that has been entrusted to her care.  She then used unproven sociological theories to justify why she was doing this.  It was yet another example of why the state system in the United Kingdom is failing (even in officially "unfailed" Woodside High School) - the teachers are completely out of control and just do what they like, confident that they cannot be removed from their post no matter how badly they behave (in this case acting illegally and boasting about it on national radio).

It's not for teachers to solely decide what happens in schools, nor even for parents (although they should have a significant say).  We all support the state education system through our taxes, and although as a taxpayer I do not want to micro-manage what happens in Woodside High School in Wood Green, if society through the parliamentary process imposes a legal requirement on the school it is reasonable to expect the Head to make sure it happens.  If Joan McVittie wants to have absolute control she should found her own school outside of the state system and pay for it by selling places commercially (if she can find anyone to buy her particular philosophy).

Also I'm not all that happy about what the Bishop of Oxford said.  The Church of England goes on and on about justice and democracy and yet the position of bishops is now entirely undemocratic (no longer being genuinely selected by the Prime Minister, which in the past provided a slender democratic endorsement).  If Anglican bishops were directly elected by Anglican communicants we certainly would not have "wishy washy" representatives appearing on the Today programme on Radio 4.


Anonymous said...

HOW DARE YOU POST THIS SLANDER ABOUT JOAN MCVITTIE AND WOODSIDE HIGH SCHOOL. I am currently a student in that school and i cannot believe what i am reading. Woodside high school is an excellent school with excellent teachers and moreover, an OUTSTANDING headteacher. If it were not for the decisive actions of Joan McVittie then woodside would have been closed down many years ago. Her as well as the staff ARE the reason for th school still being open.

Furthermore, the staff do not believe that they are unable to be dismissed from their teaching posts, they know that due to them being amazing at their jobs they are safe from dismissal. And as such have a right to believe that there is no reason for them being fired.

Although there is a feeling of anger in my previous paragraphs i do not feel any, i simply want you to understand that our school is confident about how we do and rightly so if you looked at the most recent GCSE results.

a from l said...

Thank you for your post "anonymous". You are entitled to your opinion but I would point out that you claim to be connected to the school so have a vested interest.

I did not slander Joan McVittie - she openly said on national radio that she was ignoring the law.

Obviously I can't comment on your particular school and I have no idea who you really are - you might be a student you might be someone else - you didn't sign your name to your comment so who can tell.

More generally, teachers cannot be "amazing" as you claim otherwise employers would not be complaining that teenagers are leaving school without the basic literacy skills, numeracy skills and social skills that make them employable (hence the high rate of youth unemployment and the way that employers prefer to recruit eastern Europeans rather than British young people).

You also can't get away from the fact that the public schools (where teachers can be sacked if they don't perform) easily out-perform state schools at getting young people into universities - if your teachers were so "amazing" they would be getting a much larger proportion of their students into top universities.

Perhaps you should ask Joan McVittie how many students from Woodside High School ultimately went on to one of the top ten British universities last year.