Saturday, September 22, 2007

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel?

It’s hasn’t been the best of times for the Heartsease Academy– this is the takeover bid by millionaire former second-hand car dealer turned Pentecostalist preacher Graham Dacre.

Far be it from me to accuse their supporters of ‘scraping the bottom of the barrel’ but support for the Heartsease Academy has come from Jim Hawkins the head of Norwich School, a fee paying ‘independent’ school.

Looking at their web site you might be forgiven for asking ‘what does a head from a socially selective school know about the state sector?’ But who I am I to question my superiors? Fees at Norwich school are almost £10,000 a year, but there is of course help in the form of ‘scholarships’ that account for 20% of fees and means-tested ‘bursaries’ that can cover 100%. Strange though, the ‘independent’ schools never publish the numbers of pupils on Free School Meals.

Like many other ‘independent’ schools it owes its existence to a charitable organisation, in this case the Worshipful Company of Dyers. Schools were established in the 16th and 17th century to assist the impecunious sons of the guild members. Pardon the cynicism, but could they provide an exact account of the numbers of distressed dyer’s offspring currently receiving schooling at this hallowed establishment?

Jim Hawkins informs us that, “The traditional Christian values that its founders wish to be at its centre will, in my view, be crucial to its success.”

Now I don’t claim to be an expert on current Christian theology but ‘traditional Christian values’? Even the Catholic Church gave up on creationism in the nineteenth century.

I’ll repeat my questions to Graham Dacre-

· Does he believe that the earth was created 6,000 years ago?

· Does he believe abortion is ‘evil’?

· Does he believe homosexuality can be ‘cured’?

Still waiting for an answer Graham.

Anti-Academies Alliance

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Some facts about Norwich School and the Dyers:
Norwich School's assocation with the Worshipful Company of Dyers began in the mid 20th Century and is nothing to do with the School's foundation. The Dyers assist one independent school (Norwich) and several state schools in London.
The Dyers provide generous funds to supplement Norwich School's bursary provision for low income families.
There are no known occurences of Dyers' offspring ever receiving financial help.
The School allocates approx. £500,000 to assist pupils who would not otherwise be able to attend. Many of those pupils live in difficult circumstances with minimal family income.

Independent schools are more effective agents of social mobility than most state schools - even the grammars. Were you aware, for example, that approaching 50% of 'working class' Oxbridge undergraduates came from independents via bursary schemes?

Mr Read,
Your comments are based on prejudice and conjecture it appears. You have concocted a story about the Dyers' Co. and Norwich School that is totally untrue and presented it as fact.
You seem determined to knock independent schools - no matter what good they do.
But at the very least - please get your facts right and stop promoting these misleading untruths.
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