Tuesday, 3 February 2009

My colleague Chris Walsh, headteacher at Boston Spa School sent me this message late last night...

"Chris, I appreciate that I am not writing about rules that you have defined, but can I nevertheless share a frustration with you? Boston Spa School staff attended in their droves today, and First Leeds ran a full bus service for us. Inevitably and regretfully some parents chose not to send their young people in, probably because of news of school closures appeared widely across the city including many primaries where our siblings would have been learning. In addition there was news of schools closing in the east where young people almost entirely walk to the school. Both of these factors would have affected parents’ early morning decisions.
At Boston Spa however we provided a full curriculum with taught lessons for all, some of which were enriched with free hot chocolate. Our professional decision to fulfill the young peoples’ entitlement to learning irrespective of the weather will have a significant negative impact on our attendance figures. As we are open, all the absences count. Had we chosen like other Leeds high schools to close and denied access to learning, there would be no detriment to the attendance indicator. Surely there is not only an anomaly here but some injustice? If the decision is marginal, the incentive rewards the wrong choice. At the moment, as long as First Leeds run a bus service and the site is staffed and safe, Boston Spa School will provide proper learning (and maybe hot chocolate) for all who arrive tomorrow. This will come with yet another negative impact on our attendance figures. I can resolve this by closing the school, but it seems perverse that I should be rewarded for laying aside my moral obligations. As ever, Chris"

I think that much of what we do has peverse incentives and the harder we work and the better we do seemingly the harder the DCSF make it in terms of the rules, regulations and funding. I applaud the fact that Boston Spa have stayed open and the team are doing their usual brilliant job plus hot chocolate!

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