Thanks to a tweet by Stephen Fry over one million people will have been directed to this story. And rightly so for it is a crying scandal. Ed Balls, especially should be forced to read it every hour until his dying day. So should all his predecessors in the ludicrously named Department of Children, Schools and Families. So should every other member of the Labour government, past and present. So should all the ‘progressive’ educationalists who have fought so hard over the decades to combat academic rigour, structure and discipline. So should the teachers’ unions.
It’s a story told by one ordinary mum about the ordeal her artistically gifted 12-year old son has suffered in a sink comprehensive trendily rebranded as an Arts and Media college.
There is a school in Bournemouth which was, until a few years ago, a “Boys’ School”. It didn’t have a very good reputation – and deservedly so.
Then it changed its name. It became an Arts and Media College – and some of us “fell for it”. I am the proud mother of a hugely artistic son. I’m not proud for pride’s sake. My boy is very talented and has been published. He lives, eats, drinks and breathes art – it is quite simply “who he is”.
When the time came, a couple of years ago, for us to choose his secondary school, his father and I scratched our heads and worried a great deal. Bournemouth is rather better known for catering to an aged population than it is for its merits in either primary or secondary education. It would have been a “nice thought” to have my son crammed for the Grammar School entrance examination. He isn’t very good at Maths. The thought crossed our minds but I worried about what would happen when the “cramming” ended – and, to be honest, the Grammar School isn’t “grounded” in the Arts and our son needed a place that would help him to channel his talents.
I “did” the Open Day circuit and ultimately decided that the school that had the best facilities for an artistic kid was the one called an “Arts and Media College”. Everything that a child with a leaning towards the arts would need was PHYSICALLY there. I couldn’t fault the Arts studios, the state of the art drama and stage equipment nor, indeed, did the Radio studio seem to be too out of date.
My son started at the Arts and Media College at the beginning of Year 7 in September 2008. And the dream ended.
Read on and weep for our childrens’ future. I really can’t think of many reasons for voting Conservative. But this would surely be one of the very few. Shadow Schools Minister Michael Gove is on the case. Too late, unfortunately, for this poor child…