‘Independence for Donington’ call for pupils

A headteacher says he would consider calling for “independence in Donington” to ensure his pupils have a successful future.

Martyn Taylor, of the Thomas Cowley High School, attended an Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) conference in Derby and said “it was very depressing”.

The meeting underlined a “chilling” glimpse into the challenges facing teachers given in a Shape of Future Schools address by Under Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss, which Mr Taylor also attended.

Under the changes, Year 11s can expect to be facing 25 to 30 hours of exams on maths, English, science, modern foreign languages, geography and history. “Bizarre subjects” like the arts, music, technology, media and drama can be kept on the curriculum, but will not count with school inspectors.

This week Mr Taylor and his teachers sat down to plan a way forward.

He said: “I’m beginning to think the only thing to do is declare independence in Donington. A school on an island like Jersey did it and decides its own educational pathway.

“Our success in the past has been our ability to be inclusive. Every student here can achieve in something to a high level, so they are more likely to achieve elsewhere.

“Some pupils might be really good at food technology and they are more likely to achieve in maths and English. That’s what’s at risk.

“If students struggle with a subject they don’t get that feeling of self-worth and achievement and are less likely to achieve in a core subject.

“It’s madness that technology is one of the ‘bizarre’ subjects when CBI careers guidance is still looking for it as one of the things employers most want – as well as flexibility, problem solving, ability to analyse and wordprocessing.

“Our task now is to decide whether to risk getting a pasting from inspectors in a report that puts parents off sending their children to our school or to continue giving all of our students the best education for them so they do not sit on the shelf feeling useless.

“There’s no choice really.”