Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tidemill Superhead loses plot

A letter from Tidemill School Leadership Team went out yesterday to parents, announcing an Academy Consultation Meeting on Thursday 21st October (7pm). Parents are invited to request a ticket to attend the meeting, where key arguments will be presented by Tidemill staff, an unnamed 'ex-director of education', Martin Powell Davies from the National Union of Teachers, and chaired by Joan Ruddock MP.

Apart from the short notice, it might also be noted that no childcare arrangements are offered. The meeting would also not be taking place at all if not for the campaigning efforts of a small number of parents who felt there had been no consultation. Their campaign is referred to in the letter as criminal activity that threatens the safety of pupils.

After the announcement of the date and time, the letter continues in an alarmist and inaccurate manner, decrying the opposition to the school's plans...

"Despite what was reported in the South London Press this is not a public meeting, it is only for Tidemill parents, staff and Governors and we are keen to ensure that this is a calm and productive meeting which will allow everyone to hear the key arguments for and against the proposal.

"The senior leadership team met last week to discuss our concerns over the overtly political lobbying that we are experiencing from the Anti-Academies Alliance. Many parents have complained that they have to begin and end their school day walking through a barage of shouting and leafleting. In particular several of our parents with English as an additional language have expressed how they are finding this lobbying confusing and how it is causing them considerable anxiety. Parents have found these tactics aggressive and intimidating and are worried about the effect this is having on their children; it certainly doesn't provide an ideal start to the day. In light of parents concerns and complaints, we have reported this matter to the police.

"More importantly, we are very concerned about the safety of our pupils as children are being enticed with balloons across the road with no regard to road safety. This is extremely dangerous and makes it very difficult for our staff to know if children have been collected by an appropriate adult. Furthermore Tidemill children have been photographed and videoed leaving school without consent from their parents; this is a dangerous breach of our e-safety policy. Two parents leading the AAA campaign have been written to requesting that they consider alternative ways to conduct their campaign so it does not impact on the safety of our pupils before and after school."

The letter goes on to attempt to persuade parents to support the school in its aims to become an Academy. "As the leading professionals of this school we strongly believe that converting Tidemill to Academy status will secure the best future for our pupils. We hope all our parents and staff will support us in our vision after they have had the opportunity to hear all sides of the issue."

This would appear rather a biased statement to make in the middle of a consultation.

The letter goes on to refer to the recently held public meeting at the Albany as "led by the AAA (Anti Academy Alliance) resulting in shouting, aggression and verbal abuse: allowing very little opportunity to discuss the real issue of what is best for our pupils at Tidemill. Many people who attended this meeting had no connection to the school whatsoever. To ensure this meeting is not hijacked by people with their own political agenda, we are asking all parents to request a ticket to attend the meeting..."

And ends, rather childishly...

"At the meeting on Thursday evening we will not be providing balloons, we will not be shouting or chasing you down the street but will offer you a fair and balanced view of the issues surrounding becoming an academy."

It appears the school's 'leading professionals' object to the expression of free speech. The children videoed outside the school were actively voicing their opposition accompanied by their parents whose permission had been given. The meeting at the Albany was attended by parents and members of the community. It seems the school's 'leading professionals' object to the community (people with no connection to the school whatsoever) being consulted, despite the fact that the new school will be positioned slap bang in the middle of a community facility. Most of those attending do not recall any aggression and abuse, although one of the governors left in exasperation when one misinformed parent angrily suggested her own child might be excluded from the new Academy.

To see a video of the Albany meeting on 6th September, and the arguments voiced, go to

Meanwhile, the 'leading professionals' told parents that the forthcoming meeting was in danger of being hijacked by a political agenda, as though to imply to parents that politics is a dirty word, when in fact the very idea of Academies is a political idea, representing a fundamental shift in education policy (whether you agree with it or not).

It also appears the meeting will only have one speaker representing the opposition to the school's plans (Martin Powell-Davies) whilst arguments for will come from members of the leadership team and an unnamed ex-director of education — hardly a fair and balanced discussion, one might conclude.

BTW, this important letter was conveyed to parents via their children, rather than posted, so could easily go astray. See the letter here.


  1. Hmm, so contempt for anyone ''overtly political'' and the community explicitly excluded from the consultation....I'm not sure this chap is able to deal effectively with opposition - maybe he's not used to having to deal with it.

  2. I was looking for the arguments in favour of Academies and thought there might be a presentation of such on the Tidemill School website. It says that they are consulting the wider community by sending out a consultation document. Anyone know where you can see them? Then they list some related documents (4 in all) that you can download, but all 4 documents are not to be found when you click the links!

  3. I'm beginning to lose patience with the way Tidemill is going about this - the fact that the links on their website are all dead speaks volumes about their commitment to consultation.

    I don't have copies of all the documents but in the interests of democracy and accountability the''consultation document'' that they wond't give you can be found here:


  4. Update: the documents are back (if they were ever there before) online since no earlier than 25 October. Here: