Sunday morning and J sends an email to the leadership group with a link to an article in The Times about so-called ‘GROMP’ schools. Decline to give up my anonymity in order to subscribe to The Times and therefore read no more than the first two paragraphs. It must be admitted that these two paragraphs do not fill me with a great deal of eagerness to continue. J however anticipates this response and later in the morning emails out the entire report from the New Schools Network on which the article is based.
Unable to shake deeply ingrained scepticism about New Schools Network which is, it appears, a ‘charity’ organisation set up to advise Free Schools. Being only one coffee into Sunday morning I find myself muttering something vaguely incoherent to M about Free Schools being the Spawn Of The Devil (or at least the spawn of Mr Gove which M assures me is much the same thing) and any advice they are being given must surely be dictated by Market Forces and the desire to Give The Audience What It Thinks It Wants.
Grudgingly skim the report and inwardly curse both J’s insensitivity to those of us with Lives Outside Of School and my own inability to effectively execute a modicum of restraint vis a vis striking Work Life Balance. Concede it is just possible that J has simply lost track of time during the summer break and believed it to be Monday already.
Report appears to regurgitate much of the ethos of the Charter Schools movement from the United States and stakes a claim for the establishment of a ‘No Excuses’ culture and Firm Discipline. Can’t help feeling that all this desire for Firm Discipline is a poor excuse for establishing a vaguely militaristic culture and that it is, perhaps, most commonly supported by the kind of person who voted LEAVE and who thinks that children should be Seen And Not Heard. Or preferably neither seen nor heard, which perhaps is a mite harsh of me, but that is what one gets on a Sunday morning with only one coffee behind one. And yes, I am aware that there are far too many one’s in that last sentence. But what can one do?
Determined that readers should not take me for someone who thinks that the fundamental premise of Charter Schools is A Bad Thing, however, so wish to stress that idea of encouraging aspirational attitudes in young people is to be applauded. Nevertheless cannot help but be drawn back to the question of Aspiring to What? To leave poverty and raise one’s social standing? Admirable. Yet unless there is a fundamental shift in the way one’s societies are structured does this not also inevitably mean encouraging people to Succeed At All Cost? Does success for one not by implication mean failure for someone else, somewhere else? Is this notion of an aspirational culture not complicit in perpetuating a competition based market?
Forced to consider the possibility that perhaps I do not support the fundamental premise of Charter Schools after all. Forced to concede too that I may need to come out and propose that the notion of aspiration within a culture of competitive capitalism is not to be encouraged at all. Would this prove to be a deeply undesirable point of view within school leadership team? Most assuredly, yes. May also prove to be astoundingly unfashionable stance within the wider educational landscape of the times (not to mention The Times). Consider this not necessarily a bad thing and that perhaps this can be my defining trait, my Brand Identity as it were.
Decide all notions of Brand Identity would be ironic given vague stance of anti-competitive market capitalism and make second coffee of the morning.