Compooter say ‘No’: council is “baffled” over GCSE results

GENE BRODIE reports on further concerns about the lack of information – withheld results, or through simple incompetence? – about the performance of Croydon’s secondary schools. Plus: The Guardian highlights again the injustices of Ofsted’s treatment of Roke Primary

"Compooter say 'No'": This, of course, is nothing like the studied indifference and unhelpfulness in Croydon Council's education department. Oh no

“Compooter say ‘No'”: This, of course, is nothing like the studied indifference and unhelpfulness in Croydon Council’s education department. Oh no

Three weeks have passed now since Inside Croydon highlighted how our local council, the local education authority still for most of the schools in the borough, had failed to clearly publish the GCSE results for Croydon’s state secondary schools. Read our original report here.

And today, still there’s no ready source of that information available on the council website.

Maybe what staff are left working for the council are just too busy with the organisation of their move across Cost Us A Mint Walk to Fisher’s Folly, the £140 million glass palace that opens at the end of the month, and so don’t have any time to bother with actually carrying out their duties on behalf of the borough’s residents.

So while neighbouring boroughs and their schools have made their 2013 GCSE performances publicly available nearly a month ago, the residents of Croydon have to put up with a council-run website that only offers links to school GCSE performances from 2011: go to Secondary Schools, click on the first school on the list, and click on performance tables, and then performance scores… Then try the second school, then the third. All link to the external, Directgov website (“Public services all in one place”, ha! The rich irony!), which offers links so that visitors may “view the latest data”, that is in fact more than two years out of date.

Why is this important? Because across south London, tens of thousands of parents of 10- and 11-year-olds are embarking on what must be one of the most fraught, and important, periods of their parenthoods and childhoods: the schools admissions process for September 2014.

And when Croydon residents turn to their local education authority, Croydon Council, for advice and help, they get the equivalent of a “Compooter say ‘No’,” answer. Even the council’s own enquiries staff working on schools admissions cannot find the 2013 GCSE results for the schools for which they are supposed to be responsible.

This comment came in from our loyal reader this morning: “I contacted the education department at Croydon Council on Thursday to ask for the percentage results for all the Croydon schools and the lady to whom I spoke seemed completely baffled by my request.

“I’m not sure that she quite believed that I wasn’t calling from ‘an organisation’ but am the parent of a child in the process of trekking around the various secondary schools with my daughter who will move up next September.

“She discussed the matter with colleagues in the admissions section, even though I explained that the question didn’t relate to admissions but to GCSE results. They of course didn’t have the answers, this not being a question about admissions … She then directed me to the website. I pointed out that the top entry related to 2011 and the next one was for 2012 but that I was really sorry I couldn’t find the one with results for 2013 and could she please help me? Silence.”

Our loyal reader gave up on the call after 15 minutes of “Compooter say ‘No'”-type answers. She was promised a response by email. Guess what? Nothing has arrived.

Meanwhile, Inside Croydon’s coverage of the disgraceful manner in which Roke Primary School was handled by Ofsted school inspectors, easing the way for a previously “outstanding” school to be  taken over by a private academy organisation, has been cited in today’s Guardian newspaper.

John Harris has written a piece which is highly sceptical about the motives of school inspectors, all of whom are “outsourced” for their independence from Michael Gove’s Department for Education, but many of whom are hired from private companies which may have conflicts of interest over the status of schools.

Harris (not to be confused with the educational carpet bagger of the same name) hits upon one possible reason behind the recent increase in the academisation of state primary schools:

Roke badge“There may be reasons why primary schools are now finding themselves downgraded and pushed into the clutches of outside sponsors: 49 per cent of secondary schools are academies, but only 7 per cent of primaries are. If the former are going to be viable, connecting them to primary schools is the obvious way to go, which explains some of the stories that have recently flared up. Critics of what the government is up to cite Roke primary in Croydon, repeatedly deemed ‘outstanding’ but suddenly charged with being ‘inadequate’ in 2012.

“It has since been given to the Harris Federation, founded by the carpet magnate Phil Harris, which is now in control of 27 primary and secondary schools. Among them is the former Downhills school in Tottenham, turned into an academy despite huge local opposition – some of which was focused on Ofsted inspections that saw the same inspector change her verdict of ‘improving’ to ‘failing’.”

To read the rest of this interesting article, click here.

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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
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