Gove’s Roke “consultation” uses figures that do not add up

Maybe this boy could teach Michael Gove a thing or two about getting your figures right?

Maybe this boy could teach Michael Gove a thing or two about getting your figures right?

One of the basics taught at every primary school is adding up. Trouble with Michael Gove, the education secretary, and the “consultation” he commissioned on the future of Roke Primary School, is that none of it adds up.

Roke is the Croydon primary which over the past decade has had outstanding results, but which Gove wants to hand over to Tory party donor Lord Harris to run as an academy.

When Roke school conducted its own poll to discover whether the government’s imposed course of action was in line with the views of parents, they got 129 responses (only one response per household was allowed), with this answer to a key question:

If the school does become an academy, who do you want as the sponsor?

Riddlesdown Collegiate 83%
Harris Federation 17%

Now, the results of the consultation commissioned by Gove’s Department for Education have been published. This consultation cost the tax-payer £5,000.

Roke parents are highly critical of the report, saying that it “contains biased reporting of statistics and omission of data which is unfavourable to Harris”.

They say, “It is alarming but not surprising because the consultation was not run by a neutral or independent arbitrator but by Harris themselves.”

According to the Harris “consultation”:

62.5% support a Harris-run academy

How can one survey suggest just 17 per cent of parents favour a Harris academy, while Harris’s own survey manage to find that 62.5 per cent of parents approve the scheme?

This is yet another flagrant abuse of statistics by those in power to meet their own agenda. Gove is becoming famous for it,” a spokeswoman for the Save Roke campaign told Inside Croydon.

Perhaps the Harris consultation was conducted by the same employees who this week have been in contact with parents at Roke, informing them that the school’s name is to be changed to include the word “academy”, and “Kenley”.

The Harris Federation appears to be blithely ignorant of the existence of Kenley Primary School nearby. But hey, why let a minor detail such as that interfere with Gove’s masterplan?

Roke parents say that only 15 parents from a school with 442 pupils voted for a Harris academy. “If we go by one vote per child, this is a measly 3 per cent of parents,” said a spokeswoman for Save Roke, whose members include a university researcher who uses  statistical analysis in their work.

“This means 97 per cent of parents were either against, undecided or did not bother to express an opinion by abstaining from the vote. Many parents felt it was a fait accompli and a fake consultation. They did not believe that we would be listened to, so they did not bother to fill in their consultation forms.”

It appears that the Harris consultation is based on the return of just 80 forms – representing fewer than 1 in 5 of all Roke parents. Harris’s number-crunchers seem to have assumed support for their scheme from the 4 in 5 of parents who did not respond.

“Of course there is always some indifference or apathy, but we think this figure actually captures two things: 1) the powerlessness parents feel at controlling the outcome and 2) the fact that no one has actually explained in an accessible way what academisation actually means,” the spokeswoman said. “There were no verbal presentations or explanation. Some parents just don’t feel informed enough to have an opinion.

“This was the opportunity for any pro-Harris parents to really make their voice count in an anonymous ballot. The fact that only 3 per cent came out to support Harris speaks volumes about how unwelcome they are at Roke.”

Save Roke protestors took their campaign to the Department for Education

Save Roke protestors took their campaign to the Department for Education

The Harris Federation’s “statisticians” managed to skew the survey responses to suit their desired outcome by including only the responses of the 24 parents who voted “yes” to a question asking if they supported academisation at Roke. Of these, just 15 went on to say they supported Harris as sponsor.

These are tiny numbers. Harris completely ignored the opinions of parents who voted “no” to an academy. Their opinions on whether Harris should sponsor the school were not included in the analysis.

“It means everyone who voted that they did not want to be an academy had absolutely no voice about whether or not they wanted Harris to be the sponsor,” said the spokeswoman.

The Save Roke campaign and the school both submitted the results of the campaign’s survey to the Harris consultation, yet only half of these results were included in Harris’s report. Results on whether parents wished to become an academy were included, but a question about whether parents supported Harris as sponsor was omitted. “We can only think that they were omitted because the results were clearly unfavourable to Harris,” the campaigner said.

Save Roke’s survey showed 83 per cent of respondents against a Harris academy and preferring Riddlesdown Collegiate, the nearby secondary school, as a sponsor in the event of academisation. “We know which survey we trust,” the spokeswoman said. “We are dismayed that Harris has completely written out Riddlesdown as a legitimate alternative from the consultation.

“What is clear is that there was absolutely no ringing endorsement of Harris.”

They may well be right. But it also seems certain that Roke Primary will cease to exist after the end of this summer term and that the Harris Federation will have got its hands on another chunk of public property at the behest of their chums at Westminster.

And all based on statistics that just don’t add up.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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1 Response to Gove’s Roke “consultation” uses figures that do not add up

  1. derekthrower says:

    Is Mr Gove’s dodgy statistics a surprise? We have found that he uses UKtv Gold and Premier Inn surveys to justify his decisions. Perhaps Roke should feel it is lucky. There will be a time when Gove launches his first Wonga School Academy. Would be rather apt with his command of figures.

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