Head slams policies in open letter to parents

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A London head has written an extraordinary letter to parents setting out his views on the government’s education policies and how far he will go to defy these for the sake of his pupils.

Tony Ryan, head of Chiswick School, an improving state comprehensive in west London, said in the open letter on the school’s website that Michael Gove, the education secretary, was “fixated on an education system that belongs in the past”, and that this was being achieved through an “unprecedented” pace of change.

Mr Ryan assured parents that he would not deviate from the school’s plans to offer a broad and balanced curriculum, despite the government’s English Baccalaureate. He said arts and PE were being “sacrificed at the altar” of the planned new qualification.

He writes: “These changes are driven by a perception that the English system is falling behind progress made by teenagers internationally. This is by no means factual, as recently released data demonstrates that we have in fact improved our international standing over the last three years.

“Wherever the truth lies, the reality is that coursework will no longer be valued and from next year, students will be assessed through terminal assessment only.”

He said the school’s “flexible and challenging curriculum” together with a focus on teaching and learning, the creation of a Student Council and improvements to school buildings had given it a “new-found confidence” to do what was right for its students.

“Our three-year vision document provides stability and clarity in turbulent times; we know where we want to go. No amount of imposed external change will derail us from this vision,” Mr Ryan added. “I am concerned that vocational education appears to have little value within the new structures. We will continue to seek out relevant vocational paths for our students and will work with local business to ensure that our students are offered relevant and exciting progression routes.”


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