Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Head Teacher Mark Elms cycling in to meet the waiting press pack on Frankham Boulevard

It looks like Mark Elms, head teacher at Tidemill Primary School, has come in for a bit of unwelcome notoriety in today's media.  The BBC website announces ''Union 'outraged' at head teacher £200,000 pay package  and the Guardian kicks off with ''Union 'outraged' at primary school head's £231,400 salary''   Behind the headlines, of course, there's a slightly different story - the inflated pay package includes backpay for work Mark has done working, not as a primary head teacher at a 400 pupil school, but for the extra work and responsibility of overseeing the ''turning around'' of a number of schools (hazy memory but I think it was 10) in Croydon.  And the reason he got that extra responsibility was because of his work turning an underachieving Tidemill into what Ofsted now judge  to be an  ''outstanding'' school with some of the highest ''value-added'' teaching in the country.

While many might consider the wage rates as unworldly, it may be worthwhile listening to the parents testimonies at the school gates on the BBC link and then reflecting on the fact that if Tidemill had remained a quietly ineffective average-achieving school this story would not have appeared at all.

(Check the sidebar for other blogs, such as 853 and Brockley Central who have also covered this story.)

UPDATE 16:40: The BBC has now changed tack a little, well, a good bit more than a little now that an education reporter has looked into things  - see  ''Why head teacher Mark Elms earned £200,000


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  2. The person above is very brave with their comments. But fail to leave their name. Opinions do NOT reflect what I see as a parent at the school.

    I see a talented and happy group of staff, yes they work hard - but that's what my children need.

    Racism? I have never heard of any incidents and adore the fact that cultural diversity is celebrated.

    Patronising he is not. Assertive and clear in the role he expects from us he is. Haven't we a key role in the education of our children?

    A CROSS Crossfield PaRENT sounds like she's attracted to Mark Elms, ride with it. Don't hate.

    Can't comment about the divorce papers - but he won't be the first and not sure how it is anything to do with the newsthread.

    You sound bitter, blogger above. Don't be - it will no doubt rub off on your child - and be another thing the school has to coach your child through.

    Well done Tidemill, staff, positive parents , Mr Elms. Keep up the good work.

  3. As I have personal experience of volunteering at the school for around 2 years up to 2008, I can't help but feel that several separate issues have been run together in the way the story has been presented.

    Of course, I don't know (and don't really care) about all the school's history, but in the time I was volunteering there, I found a very professional and highly-motivated staff that worked very effectively as a team (particularly when you remember that class-based work necessarily keeps staff away from their colleagues for the whole of the school-hours working day). And that team remained very focused on their students both during school hours when the kids were there and also during those times before and after school. (I have had emails sent to me at 5 in the morning before school.) They believed children should take on responsibility, parents should take on responsibility, hell, they even encouraged me as a volunteering ''outsider'' to take on responsibilities.

    So, do we as locals want such a school on our doorstep? I think the answer has to be an overwhelming yes.

    Somewhere along the line, I think we also have to ask who is responsible for getting such a team together. Sure, Mark Elms must have had to force people out of the school but he's also been personally involved in getting the current team together. On the way to where we are now, he will necessarily have upset people. But, looking at it in terms of results, I think we have an excellent team just next door working hard for our local children. And that school, physically very cramped and dilapidated, now has a new school currently being built next door. So, at a time when we're all a bit concerned about the prospects for public services post-recession, at least our children have something to look forward to.

    To me it doesn't matter whether Mark Elms is a greedy, self-serving, manipulative monomaniac. The important question is whether such ''qualities'' can serve an area. If he is those things, has it hurt us in Deptford? No. If he isn't those things, has it hurt Deptford? No again.

    The first ''anonymous'' comment above makes several allegations - racism, lechery, bullying, etc - and holds him responsible for having employed a since-convicted pervert. Personally, I have never heard any whisper about racism or of him having employed a perverted deputy head. And such accusations would astonish me if there were any any basis to them. I've never seen him bullying anybody but I don't suppose you can turn a school around by letting sloppiness continue - it takes a certain forcefulness....

    Mind you, it wouldn't surprise me if he were a womaniser. You don't become a headteacher without using charm - maybe it becomes a habit. Luckily, being an old git, he never came on to me...

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  5. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23856454-highest-paid-head-got-most-of-grant-meant-to-help-school-in-his-absence.do

    He earned £248,000 for ticking boxes!!!!
    Head teachers are almost as parasitic as politicians.
    maybe he should run for Parliament.................

  6. 10:30 Friday: the www.tidemill.net website is not loading. I don't know whether this means the site's server has crashed, has been taken down or is currently being updated.

    In any case, the blog has invited the school to respond here, either by commenting or by posting an article via the crosswhatfield@gmail.com address.

  7. Who is the blogger who keeps TYPING IN CAPITALS AND IS SO ANGRY?

    Found the comments interesting as an outsider who does not live in the area. And as not originally from the UK don't label a class on my head.

    Anon 2 and Chris Morgan's comments seem articulate and rational - Crossfield PaRENT
    obviousley has a bone to pick with Mark Elms and is aggrieved and sees themselves as a downtrodden underclass. Pick the bone with him, let us know how it goes.

    I would say from the articles the community and school seem to back him and have huge praise for the school. Though the parents seemed fully on board, I take it that a Crossfield PaRENT was not interviewed as it would have been broadcast. None on Sky, ITN or the BBC slate hime - and i have no doubt they would have if they could.

    The money sounds obscene in a year - but have read the breakdown and The British Media have skewed the figures.

    Still a cross amount? Yes - Not sure if it is a good idea for people to put a price on chldren's education.

    This area and school probably has a high number of unemployment. Will these children repeat the cycle without a kick start and inspirational teachers and schools?

    I was suprised abd concerned when anon 1 said he employed a convicted pedo. Didn't think head teachers were allowed to do such things. But on reading http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/3740311.Teacher_kept_child_porn_on_school_laptop/

    it is clear that this deputy was not at Tidemill when the conviction took place, and had been employed by another school.

    Being in the education recruitment business CRB checks are all a school can do. So to say he knowingly employed a pervert deputy would not be accurate.


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