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From H Gregg

Friday, 22 June 2012

I read a letter today in the Hebden Bridge Times from a group calling itself "Parents4Discipline" regarding problems at Calder High. At first I thought it was a wind-up, but unfortunately I suspect not. "Little Britain" style - local schools for local people!

Who are they? Any connection with the school governors?

What do you think?

You don't have to buy one - read the letter here

From Joe Ridley

Friday, 22 June 2012

I've no idea who is behind the parents4discipline letter but the points they highlight seem perfectly valid and are far from a laughing matter.

The fact that the headteacher has been hounded out of her position (I hope only temporarily), by a group of parents is a disgrace and gives me little hope that the problems at Calder High are going to be sorted any time soon.

From Cat Lee

Friday, 22 June 2012

In response to Joe Ridley's posting and the letter in the Hebden Bridge times from Parents4Change, perhaps they would like to consider the fact that over 120 parents of children at Calder High School have been in support of those parents who have tried to establish a genuine dialogue with the school for the best part of the year since January.

This is by no means a small group of parents trying to cause trouble, or a splinter group as school leaders have tried to describe the group.

The issue of anti-social behaviour is something that concerns us all, including those parents who you think have acted disgracefully recently. May I ask what exactly do you think these parents have done that warrants this accusation?

The way the school have so far tried to manage the issue of behaviour hasn't succeeded. This is not because parents and staff didn't support the head teacher. It is because the policy put in place by the head teacher was essentially flawed. Any system of this nature that punishes children wearing a hoody over their uniform and gives those students with real behaviour issues treats and trips is a real concern. The message is bad behaviour = rewards, minor breaches of uniform rules = exclusion. How can this be accepted by students, staff or parents?

Carol Spillane has repeatedly avoided having a dialogue with parents about these very issues. The aim of those parents seeking a dialogue with her was to work with her and the school to turn things around, not to 'hound her out of her job' as you suggest.

The communication from the Head teacher has been one way only leaving everyone else without a voice. This is why parents felt the need to act, to represent their children, to try to support their local school.

Wendy Bradford is now taking steps to establish a dialogue with parents and students and meetings are now taking place. I am hopeful that this will be good for the school, good for the staff remaining at Calder High, and good for our children.

Why was it so hard for Carol Spillane to do this? A Head Teacher who doesn't want to get feedback from her students, staff and parents will always be a recipe for disaster.

From Joe Ridley

Friday, 22 June 2012

Cat. I really don't want to engage in a petty argument about hoodies etc. but you did bring it up.

As far as I'm aware, a hoody is not part of the school uniform. Why are you encouraging students to challenge this school rule? You really are not helping the teachers get on with their job.

I'm interested to know how much experience you have of running a large secondary school. What qualifications have you gained relevant to that job? Have you been through the necessary training and experience and passed an interview to enable you to run a large secondary school? I don't know, but I do know that Mrs Spillane has and now all her experience and training has been trashed.

As I said, I believe it to be a disgrace. My hopes for an improvement at Calder High will have to be put on hold.

From Graham Barker

Friday, 22 June 2012

If Parents4Discipline lacks the courage to identify him- or herself - I'll be surprised if it's more than one person - there isn't much point bothering to respond. It's a shame that the HBT and Tod News, which also carries the letter, can't even tell us that a name and address has been supplied. Is it open season now for anonymous letter writers to the dead tree press?

And Joe, you're entitled to your opinion but I don't think there's much substance to your charge that the head teacher has been 'hounded out [...] by a group of parents'. Much though some CHS governors would like that myth to take root, I think most parents take the view that Mrs Spillane brought the bulk of her problems on herself.

Most parents have always been, and will continue to be, supportive of a head teacher who is prepared to work with rather than against them. There just hasn't been one around for a while.

There is of course one precedent for a teacher being hounded out of CHS, but in that case the victim was Leonora Rustamova and the hounds were the governors.


Update: Joe - If you want to engage in sensible debate, you may need to try harder to get your facts right or you risk not being taken seriously.

If you reread Cat's sentence that contains the word hoodie, you'll see that she takes a completely different position from the one you infer. And please bear in mind that most people would only need to read that perfectly clear sentence once.

From Abi L

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Actually, I agree that Calder High is way too big, like most comps. It's like warehousing children, dehumanising. But building new schools isn't on the governments agenda!

From Helen Chilton

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Fairly recent, reputable UK based research suggests that the optimum size for a secondary school, based on academic achievement and allowing for a decent choice of subjects at Sixth Form, is 900 students.

However, I was a bit concerned there was a whiff of "ethnic cleansing" in the original letter. Or am I wrong?

From H Gregg

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Thanks Helen - that was my point. It seems to have become obscured in chat about other school issues.

We quite rightly get concerned by a transient bunch of EDL thugs visiting our town. But there are other ways in which racism can infiltrate our society - I felt the tone of the original letter certainly had a scent of it. We should confront it at every opportunity lest it becomes acceptable.

From Dave R

Thursday, 28 June 2012

....and I think that people can read whatever they wish into any statement.

The original letter expresses concerns about overcrowding, and quite realistically in my view, suggests limiting intake to the feeder schools.
Should that be interpreted as covert racism?

Is the fact that the 'feeder schools' themselves have low levels of ethnic diversity within their intake the fault of the writer, or would you have us believe that there is their some form of racism at work there too?

Agree or disagree with the views of the parents4discipline group as you wish. To resort to dirty tricks by implying they are racist without any foundation, is in my view morally wrong.

From Joe Ridley

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Actually, the thrust of the original letter highlighted the serious issue of too many students attending the Calder High site. A fact that I imagine the majority of parents would agree with.

Why are you introducing the the subject of racism? At no point does the letter refer to ethnicity. Accusations of racism are often unfairly used to close arguments down.

From Abi L

Friday, 29 June 2012

I have to agree. I would be the first to condemn racism, but I have read and re-read this and I just can't see it. I don't agree with other points raised in the letter, and the pseudonym's a bit dodgy, but any comparison with the EDL seems a bit OTT - if not actually slanderous- especially in an open public forum such as this. It might make the rest of us scared to post, lest we be accused of views we don't actually hold.