Standing up for City of Leeds….

Last night I attended the public consultation meeting held on the future of City of Leeds School in the packed sports hall of the school. Parents, students, residents and the hopefuls in the upcoming council by-election were all in attendance along with representatives of Education Leeds. Unsurprisingly, the meeting was overwhelmingly hostile to the proposal to close the school.

Substantively, the proposals are based on a failure to achieve government targets, a ‘failure to attract leaders’ and rather absurdly (for a school under almost constant threat) a failure to attract local intake. Students told of the disruption the plans would bring to their education while emotional teachers told of their pride in the school and its pupils. It was not hard to see how extensive the damage these proposals would do to the local community. This is something that slips under the radar in the results-driven mania that drives education policy; as it was pointed out we should not judge human beings on their exam grades and similarly we should not judge schools in the same way.

It is said that this mania shows ‘aspiration’ but it shows nothing of the kind; rather it displays a poverty of ambition, a vision of ambition that is driven by a narrow ‘aspiration’ to churn out economically useful ‘units’. It displays no ambition for local communities and in fact, cripples them under the tyranny of impersonal stat obsession.  One contribution that struck me came from an academic from Australia which has ‘abandoned the notion of failing schools’ and its place there are ‘development schools’ which get the lions share of resources. This seems an eminently sensible idea to me and one that this Labour government should adopt.

Meanwhile, Leeds City Council continues to do a very convincing impression of a jellyfish; it’s Liberal Democrat leaders blame the national government for their own policy priorities and in a totally spineless manner they try to turn the fire on Labour locally. In doing so they are cynically seeking to exploit anger over the issue for party political gain and avoiding the issue; they could stop this if they wanted too. Let’s be quite clear; the majority of the Liberal Democrats including the leadership want to drive a coach and horses through City of Leeds and tear down other schools and turn them into academies.

Liberal Democrat councillors who resist the leadership line are punished; one who spoke out against academies was stripped of their lead membership and the issue is, like everything else, dictated not debated. Alternatives exist; StandUp4City has produced proposals and with the support of a committed community these would succeed. However, the question is will the council even give them the chance?


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4 responses to “Standing up for City of Leeds….”

  1. Martin says :

    I’m not inclined to “blog” because I am never clear what the point is sinec they never appear to convert anyone or change anyone’s view, but on this occasion, I think a few facts need to be made clear. First of all, City of Leeds was under threat of closure in 2003 when labour ran Leeds. Penny Ewens reduced Labour’s marjority from 1000 to 70 campaigning against this, and as a result the proposals were shelved. At least you can say that the Lib Dems have managed to keep the school open since then (I think it highly unlikely that Labour would have done the same). Secondly, the fact is that the Council does have its head over a barrel. At the last Full Council, Richard Harker, the Exec Board member stated that the Secretary of State had told him four times in one telephone conversation that he should close the school – and the implicit threat/carrot that funding would only be available for alternatives if he did. Thirdly, it is complete nonsense to claim that a lead member was sacked over this. Rather than attacking Leeds for introducing academics, which you clearly do not like but which is one of the only shows in town, why dont you attack the source of them? As for target based schools policies. Hmm who has sought to gold plate them over the last 10 years…..Im sorry but this is a political issue and it is completely legitimate to point out where Labour is sadly lacking on this issue


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    I am well aware that this was the case though I am sure Labour would dispute the reasons for keeping City of Leeds open. Cllr Harker as I understand it is fully in favour of academies and thirdly it is not, Cllr Ewens was sacked over her oppsition to academies in general. I have and will; I am completly opposed to academies and think their introduction is a bad idea. Once again it shows how nationally Labour has lost its way by accepting the private sector.

    I agree about a target driven culture which I feel is wholly the wrong approach in education. However, it is wrong to hold a local party totally responsible for or adherent too national policy. As I remember it the promotion of academies is against Liberal Democrat national policy but the Leeds group continues to do it.


  3. Chris Jarvis says :

    The promotion of academies by Lib dems going against national policy is all part of a common purpose based agenda. Unfortunately there are some very weak individuals serving on Leeds council and people should wake up to what common purpose is and what their agenda is about, because common purpose is a government funded ‘charity’ that has links to peodophiles and all the major parties, with an agenda that ultimately ends with us living in a soviet era style europe where academies are like boot camps, run by military companies, sounds far fetched doesnt it? except for it is fact. Everyone should take a look at the UK column newspaper, there is too much for me to explain here and I don’t want to lose you on the way, but it is time that everyone woke up and realised that there are a very small number of people who are pushing out this agenda, and united we can do something about it. Read more at


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  1. School closure plan angers pupils - February 26, 2010

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