Should good air quality trump?

raines school

the brand-new building of Raine’s Foundation school

The current case on the proposed closure of Raine’s Foundation school raises a lot of questions.

Council has admitted that the air quality of the location of Raine’s is healthier than in the rest of the borough but because the academic achievements are lower than the average in Tower Hamlets and the school is the only one with a ‘need of Improvement’ Ofsted rating since a few years and parents do not want to send their kids to the school and admission numbers constantly fall, the school should be closed.


Raine’s is next to the Chest Hospital, view from Victoria Park, 1 minute away from the school

Yet we constantly see this harrowing pictures of children being unable to breathe on the way to school or have schools in unhealthy air areas. We have a healthy air campaign.

gatehouse schoolAlso in this area is the private Gatehouse School, which is thriving. Gatehouse school is part of the education provision in the area near Victoria Park.

I find it quite amazing that healthy environment cannot be utilised for the benefit of secondary school pupils and education provision cannot be moved to a healthy air area but instead education takes places in a preferred other area that is not so healthy. It doesn’t make much sense to me.

It would make sense if parents sent their kids to the Raine’s Foundation school and then started an action group to pressurise for better educational results, lobbying the governors and so on.

State schools under threat from legislation

“We need a better definition for school”, said Amanda Spielman.

Having watched this morning’s Victoria Derbyshire program it came to light that a school, which was warned by Ofsted twice, and asked to close, cannot be closed by force because legislation is not in place to do so because the school is not officially a school.

Ofsted’s leader, Amanda Spielman said that a school had been warned against operating but that pupils cannot be stopped from attending.

Transcript of Victoria Derbyshire program: (This is not a full transcript, there are gaps)

Ambassador’s High School in South London, a private school, was found to be operating illegally because it wasn’t registered with the government was only the second school to ever be prosecuted. Nadia Ali from South London who runs it was also to be found by Ofsted to be wilfully neglecting the children. Despite the prosecution, neither Ofsted, the local authority nor the court had the power to close it down.

Ofsted estimates that currently as much as 6.000 children are currently being educated in illegal, unregistered schools.

The prosecution was last month but Nadia Ali refuses to close the school. She was sentenced to Community Service last month but the court could not order the school to close, neither could Ofsted or the local authority.

The school caters for 4 – 14 year olds has twice applied to be government registered and twice it has been rejected by Ofsted for not meeting the Independent Schools standards.

In February this year Ofsted found there was no plan in place to actively promote British values. 6 out of 11 teachers had not been DBS or criminal record checked. There was no capacity for improvement at the school.

Last year inspectors found books that encouraged parents to hit their children, if they don’t pray; they also found books that said that a wife does not have the right to deny her husband. (Apparently children did not have access to the books).

End of transcript.

Victoria Derbyshire program provided evidence that this school in fact operates for 21 hours per week, to the amazement of the head teacher, who pretended not to know, rules make is statutory that educational establishments cannot operate for more than 18 hours without having to apply for school status.

Fact is that if people can open pop-up schools and defy Ofsted orders to stop operating and keep on teaching children anyhow, how can state schools, which depend on per-pupil funding exist?

State schools rely on permanent pupil attendance, a steady flow of pupils and long-tertm planning but pop-up schools can operate at hoc, charge parents money for sending kids and that makes the necessity for state schools unimportant.

It makes the running of state schools a high-risk endeavour if pop-up schools can emerge whenever and wherever they want because they drain the supply of pupils to state schools.

Schools like Raine’s Foundation, a Church of England school, which complies fully with all legal requirements, has a brand new building, are having to close because they cannot attract enough pupils. Raine’s are located in Tower Hamlets, an area with a high number of Muslim residents.

Labour’s Ofsted plans

So when I read this, I was doubting that the Labour plans to demolish Ofsted would be a good idea. With all those new schools springing up, if there is no inspections or regulatoins we go into doomsday scenarios with all types of radicals or weirdos starting schools with little prospect of regulating them.

Our local C.o.E. school has plans to close it because it’s low pupil numbers cannot sustain the school and provide quality education under the per pupil funding scheme, yet a private school with only 45 children on the roll, charging 2,500 per year can be run on an 18 hour per week basis?

Somehow this doesn’t stack up for me. How can a school with only 45 pupils be allowed to operate on a private basis but a state school with 28 pupils in year 7 and hundreds of other pupils including 6. Form cannot operate, due to financial constraints?

I think instead of getting rid of Ofsted, Labour should get rid of all those unsuitable small private schools operating. But then, here in Tower Hamlets that would cause havoc for them.

So why did the current government change school regulations to enable all those free schools in the country?



Re-inspection of top-rated schools

Best news I read today on the BBC news website.

I campaigned long and hard for this to happen, because of personal experiences with top-rated schools.

It seems that any school that is able to hold the discipline together – often with threats to pupils (even if it is only underlying ones) – can then exploit the situation and hide severe problems under the mantle of ‘we are untouchably good’.

I am extremely happy that Ofsted is now going to close this loophole and starts to re-inspect top-rated schools who can apply for a world-class school status.

What should really happen is that schools’ incident log book, accidents and mental health problems should be closely examined.

I have also heard that some schools actually can threaten pupils with expulsion into the horrible excluded system but then reverse the decision to then keep the pupil if the parents pay enough hush money. Schools can exploit the expulsion system to get parents to cough up extra money or make pupils lives extra harsh by enforcing rules on some harsher than on others. And using the expulsion notice system to send the same note for the same offence twice, making it look that a pupil broke the rules twice, whilst they actually only broke it once.

The classic scenario of corruption in the education system is looming upon us and at least Ofsted is making an effort to stop it.

Well done.

Also thanks to Chancellor  Sajid Javid who pledged £400 million further education funding. And also thanks to Prime Minister Boris Johnson who pledges multi-billion investment in all schools. But I have heard on the Andrew Marr show that the per pupil increase is directed into Conservative areas or areas the Conservatives want to win. That is something I do not totally approve of.

As Steven Pinker, in his book ‘Enlightenment now’ explains, knowledge is the one most important driving factor that helps humanity progress.

Educational knowledge has to be measured around the whole population. Regions like Afghanistan have the worst education and most repression in the world. Sierra Leone has the least schooling hours in the world. (till 2015)

No country can afford to give preference in education spending to a select few. That principle was established by the Catholic church who believed that only approved religious elite should have the right of education.

If Boris Johnson now thinks he can select Conservative Council areas and areas leaning towards voting Conservative in the next elections to butter them up with his Billions of extra per pupils spending then I will oppose this.

The money has to be spend regardless of voting patterns, knowledge has to spread across the board.

Education has to be free of repression and political or financial corruption to free young minds to florish in academic learning free of fear from opression.

Happiness, the forbidden word

sculpture st. pancrasThe per-pupil funding formula leads to huge, overcrowded schools, which leave no time for enjoying education. Pupils are perched into class-rooms like chickens in a coop.

Pupils are stuffed in their hundreds and thousands into the smallest available space and treated as profit making goods to get as much yield per square metre of pupil occupied in relation to GCSE results achieved.

Of course the law of probability will ensure that the more pupils there are, the more top results will be achieved. Perhaps a couple per hundred achieve top results.

So any school that has a huge building, with even more pupils can kid themselves by saying, they provide quality education because a few of their pupils achieved top marks. Smaller schools will find it harder to get the same success total. If a dense school achieves 10 out of 2.000 top achievers, a small school will probably only produce 1 out of 200.

It then comes down to cost spent per top grade achieved. It is no longer about the person.

If it was and researched and the research would be publicised to show how much knife crime originates from over-crowded schools, how much misery and despair follows in the aftermath of production line style education follows, we would see a sudden change in attitudes, yet those figures are never made public in that context.

I dare to say that our increase in knife crime and gangs is a direct result of per pupil funding, bigger schools and absent parents, who work for the work program.

The government believes a crowded school is more rewarding, cheaper to run with bigger yields.

So our not so clever government tends to rate all schools, that manage to educate hundreds of kids like robots on an assembly line with top Ofsted ratings simply because a small percentage of the huge pool of pupils get top grades.

If those pupils then can actually behave on the day of the Ofsted inspection, the school can get a world class rating. Ofsted puts no weight on pupil’s mental health, physical health or happiness. Well they look a bit at healthy meals, but that’s all.

Happiness, is the forbidden word.

Smaller schools, which can actually find the time and space to allow for some personal freedom to build meaningful relationships with teachers or among pupils are only possible in either private schools or such remote environments, that there are naturally very few children around.

The government has to change the per pupil funding formula and Ofsted has to consider mental, physical and academic health of pupils. Ofsted should enquire about any reports of stressed behaviour, how many pupils bunk off, how many have eating disorders, mental health issues, learning disability and special needs, the amounts of bullying, the air quality, the green space, academic, sporting, craft, arts achievement, all important factors to ensure a young person can develop a great personality.

Health first

action activity adult athletes

Photo by Pixabay on

The best part about being a human is being as healthy as possible. At least that is what we are striving for.

Here in Tower Hamlets, school children are thought to have 10% less lung capacity, compared to children in rural areas.

Tower Hamlets schools are normally encoached in busy traffic areas, with roads, right, left and centre.

For example Bishop Challoner School is unfortunately a good example of a school being in a totally traffic polluted area. The school is judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted because of exam results only. The school is siutated in Commercial Road.

For Ofsted good results are everything, they do not consider other health considerations when they judge a school, which I think is very sad indeed.

On the other hand, Raine’s Foundation school, is a secondary school situated near Victoria Park, an area classified as almost suburban, with leafy streets, access to Victoria Park for PE and much less traffic, as roads around the building are one lane only.

Raine’s Foundation school is classified as ‘in need of improvement’ by Ofsted and because of this, parents won’t apply to send their kids there.

Parents as well as Ofsted only care about exam results.

Tower Hamlets Council¬† now wants to close Raine’s Foundation school because of the poor exam results, poor in comparison to national results.

Why does nobody care about the children’s health? Isn’t it better to run a school in a healthy area because the kids will be better off throughout their life, if their lungs breathe healthy air?

I personally want to fight to keep the school open just to give children the chance to attend a healthy school. Because sacrificing health in exchange for good exam results will have long-lasting effects on the children’s health.

Access to green spaces, a nice playground, a nearby park will have a great effect not only on children’s mental health but also the physical health.

I want everybody to write to their MP to ask for support to change the classification criteria for schools in respect of a healthy environment.

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