Rescue Our Schools

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Excellent illustration of what is happening in our schools and why


Taken from the Powerbase website, Schools Portal

Rescue Our Schools co-founder, Madeleine Holt, spoke alongside children’s author Michael Rosen at an event yesterday for NUT members in Lambeth in South London. The subject – Tired of Testing? – was a chance for speakers and teachers to tell their stories of how too much testing is exhausting and depressing children and young people, parents and teachers.

Michael Rosen shared stories of the sterile homework his children have to endure in their schools. Madeleine spoke of the absurdity of ‘baseline” testing of four year olds, with the results then used to set “flightpaths” to SATS in Year 6 – which in turn set predictions for GCSES.

As for the government’s alleged commitment to social mobility, research has shown that disadvantaged children are likely to do poorly in baseline testing, and then risk being set on “lower ability” tables from four onwards. Elaine Bennett spoke powerfully about the open letter she organised on behalf of Keep Early Years Unique. It called for Ofsted’s Bold Beginnings report on formalising the Reception year to be withdrawn. It now has nearly 3,000 signatories, among them the child development expert, Lord Robert Winston.

The conclusion of the NUT event? The whole system is becoming increasingly shocking, and needs to change for the sake of our children’s and our teachers’ sanity. More than a Score, the coalition of which Rescue Our Schools is a member, is planning a campaign focused on mental health later this year.

Important motion passed in York for education


The City of York Council passed an important motion last Thursday night (14th Dec) calling on the Secretary of State for Education to look again at the funding settlement for York which has seen it’s pupils become the lowest funded in the country. Cllr Jonny Crawshaw (Labour) – a founder member of Rescue Our Schools – brought an amendment to the original Lib Dem motion that widened it’s scope to included exam factories, teacher workload and the narrowing curriculum. The subsequently amended motion was supported by Labour, Lib Dem, Green and Independent Councillors while Conservative Councillors abstained. You can read the motion as passed here

Rescue Our Schools’ Christmas message


Christmas is approaching, and schools across the country are making preparations for shows, parties, and fundraisers. But as we approach the end of term there is a distinct lack of Christmas cheer for our pupils and teachers, and indeed for anyone interested in making sure that all children, regardless of their circumstances, access the education they need to thrive. The autumn budget brought no relief from the rising cost pressures affecting our schools, and last weekend the Social Mobility Commission resigned en masse, on the grounds that there is no capacity in government to actually deliver on improving outcomes for the poorest children in our society and narrowing the gap between the best and worst off.

Many teachers, especially in primary schools, dig into their pockets to buy their pupils a little token at Christmas. But these same teachers are now also having to pay for pencils and other essentials in their classroom on a regular basis, and there is no sign of that coming to an end. These are the same teachers who have endured 7 years of what the government euphemistically calls ‘pay restraint’ (in other words, a pay cut after inflation). Some of these teachers, like their pupils, are having to turn to food banks to get through the day. Yet again, the government has passed up the opportunity to invest in our children’s future, and instead continues to rely on the generosity of public sector workers to deliver public services. The government has cast itself as Scrooge, so far without redemption. Let’s hope the spirit of Christmas future visits before it is too late.

Christmas Presents for Education Nuts!


Rescue Our Schools would like to recommend some Christmas reading/possible presents for education enthusiasts like us?

Education Forward came out a few weeks ago: it is a collection of essays arguing that our education system is stuck in Victorian times, and needs a total rethink to prepare children for the 21st century.

(Rescue Our Schools’ co-founder Madeleine Holt has written an essay on More than a Score, the campaign for alternatives to high stakes testing, esp SATs.)

Another great book is Cleverlands. Secondary school teacher Lucy Crehan goes on a grand tour of countries that Gove/Gibberish praise for their PISA results. She discovers how much they trust teachers, don’t link scores to judging schools, generally don’t set kids etc. A fascinating and easy read.

Finally, a firm favourite: the Truth abour Our Schools by Melissa Benn. A handy summary of the key facts you need when you have to argue against grammar schools/academisation, name your topic!

Happy reading!


RoS attends the debate to launch Testing the Water


Pearson uk’s president, Rod Bristow, agrees with NEU joint General Secretary, Mary Bousted, that high stakes testing has harming our education. Rescue Our Schools was at the debate to launch Testing the Water, a report by education thinktank LKM Co on alternatives to high stakes testing. They suggest dropping the EBacc measure, which squeezes outs the arts, no longer linking student test results with teacher pay, and introducing national sampling as an alternative to high stakes tests.

Rescue Our Schools is at the Keep Early Years Unique conference in Brighton


Rescue Our Schools is at the Keep Early Years Unique conference in Brighton, where the brilliant Kym Scott is explaining why children are truly challenged when they are allowed to play. We have been handing out our RoS manifesto and getting lots of pledges of support. Lots of interest too in More Than a Score, the alliance for alternatives to high stakes testing. RoS are proud founder members.

This is our joint budget statement with FFFAS and SOS

The Government has once again shown that it is out of touch with the concerns of parents and voters in every community who are calling for the investment in our schools which we were promised.

Targeting funding at A Level maths students does nothing to address the funding shortfalls that are afflicting every pupil in every classroom in the country. Rather than tinkering around the edges with gimmicky ideas from clueless special advisors, the government needs to listen to the views of parents – the service users – who are fed up with cuts to our schools.

Our school communities will remain united – parents standing with school leaders and staff – to fight for fair funding for all of our schools. If the Chancellor wishes to prepare our people to meet the challenges ahead he should invest in our children and our schools: our country’s future.

Rescue Our Schools at the Rally against Education Cuts


Rescue Our Schools joined fellow national parent groups Fair Funding for All Schools and Save Our Schools in a show of solidarity against school cuts. More than a thousand parents and school staff lobbied their local MPs at Westminster against the continuing cuts.

RoS’Emma Bishton travelled from Suffolk with her son to attend the central London rally addressed by  shadow chancellor John McDonnell. Also speaking was Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and RoS supporter and Green spokesperson on education, Vix Lothian. There were great addresses from Fair Funding founder Jo Yurky and Save Our Schools’ Alison Ali.

RoS co-founder Madeleine Holt, seen with her daughter Sadie, told reporters that if the government doesn’t listen it will be punished at the ballot box. Its official line is still that schools have record levels of funding. So how come our experience as parents and teachers is so different?!

Sir Ken Robinson and ROS at the Education Forward event

Sir Ken Robinson has given his blessing to the Education Forward movement, of which Rescue Our Schools is a member. RoS co-founder Madeleine Holt spoke throughout the day, sharing both our manifesto and the story of More than a Score, which we helped set up. Eighty head teachers, teachers, parents, academics and future thinkers discussed ways to drag our education system into the 21st century. It was an inspiring day, and the start of something that could transform lives for children and young people.

A report from “School Cuts: What’s the Damage” National Education Union fringe meeting

Last Sunday evening Jonny Crawshaw chaired the “School Cuts: What’s the Damage” National Education Union fringe meeting at The Green Party Conference. The panel consisted of Kevin Courtney (Joint general Secretary, NEU), Vix Lowthion (Green Party Education Spokesperson) and Vickie Kemp (Fair Funding For All Schools).

Jonny began, introducing Rescue Our Schools, plugging the manifesto and urging people to join us. Kevin Courtney spoke very eloquently taking apart the government line that “there is more funding than ever” going into education; which there is, except that this doesn’t account for the increasing pupil numbers and increasing costs bourne by schools such pension contributions, apprenticeship levies and the effect of inflation. He conceded that there had been some movement on the new funding formula since the election. 88% of schools will be losing money down from 92% He evidenced this as the success of the campaign in the run up to the election, citing groups such as RoS and FFfAS as well as the Schoolcuts website.

Vix Lowthion spoke about her own experience as a teacher and the difficulties in speaking out. She is currently employed in the Isle of Wight, where she says she found difficulty in getting work having been a vocal opponent of changes happening within education under Michael Gove. She also reiterated the concern we all feel about the narrowing of the curriculum due to high stakes testing and the impact this has on children of all different backgrounds and abilities.

Vickie Kemp spoke about her shock in going into school one day and hearing the headteaching saying that there was no money, having previously believed that schools were well funded. She talked about the difficulty of setting up campaigns on your own, but how even though their FFfAS branch was still small, people were seeing their activity and coming forward to join them.

An open floor discussion ended with the consensus view that more pressure must be applied to government ministers over school funding and also in areas such as testing/assessment and the punitive approach taken to learning. One member rightly pointed out that it is not just parents, carers and staff who have a stake in education – we all do, irrespective of your personal circumstances. Society as a whole benefits from a well educated population.

Kevin Courtney spoke very positively about the RoS manifesto a number of times during the evening and recommended that members present seek it out and give it a read, saying it contained many ideas and values that we all share.

Vix Lowthion, Vickie Kemp and former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett all expressed support for the cause as well as a number of Green party members, who wished to be either better informed or more involved in the fight.