Smoke and Mirrors at the Mossbourne Academy?
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Find out what Education Politics editor, Trevor Fisher, has to say about Mossbourne Academy in his recent letter to the New Statesman.
'Samira Shackle (NS 17th October) finds the new head of OFSTED Michael Wilshaw "at his most compassionate" when talking about the gang culture around his Mossbourne school. Not what he said at the time of the riots. His knee jerk reaction to the Times Educational Supplement (29th August) was to say that "The government should throw the book at them. Show them they mean business. There are no excuses for this". However, though his school is close to the Pembury estate where riots took place, he had "no idea" if any of his pupils were involved in the riots.
Shackle quotes the results for Mossbourne Academy, but researchers investigating this apparent model of success are increasingly looking at the entry policies. If Mossbourne genuinely has a balanced intake in terms of ability, then its record of achieving grammar school like success is remarkable. However it deserves more scrutiny than it has received from politicians desperate to prove that the Academy system works.
The most curious aspect of Mossbourne's apparent success is clearly that it is difficult to understand how Wilshaw has implemented his structure when other inner city schools face pupils with poverty, social disasters and in many cases mental disorders hampering their progress. In many schools the pupils do not even speak English. How Wilshaw's brand of educational dictatorship overcomes this is a mystery no one has yet penetrated. Immediately, it is worth noting that the new Chief Inspector shows a marked resemblance to the authoritarian head teacher played by John Cleese in the comedy film CLOCKWISE. Alas Wilshaw is not a joke and both he and his school deserve much less indulgent treatment by the media than it has so far enjoyed.'
Editor, Education Politics