Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Canon Peter Clark spins Ofsted's incompetence

It is curious how His Grace’s critics crawl out of their crypts and lurch from their lairs in order to take issue with the minutiae in his posts on the St Michael and All Angels Academy and its ‘malevolent’ (not His Grace’s word) Chair of Governors, Canon Peter Clark.

His Grace is saddened that he needs to state the obvious, and he apologises to his intelligent and discerning readers and communicants that he is forced to start at the very beginning.

But this is a Church of England school, where one might expect to find truth, integrity and justice not only the curriculum, but also lived out daily in the incarnational treatment of students, parents and teachers.

Instead, we witness disinformation, lies, incompetence and injustice

This is about motives and morality.

Canon Peter Clark is the Chair of Governors at this Church of England Academy. He assumed the role from the Very Rev Dr Michael Ipgrave: the school has operated under the aegis of the Southwark Diocese since its inception and its governing body has been chaired throughout by Church of England clerics.

Canon Clark is ultimately responsible for the suspension of Katharine Birbalsingh following her speech at the Conservative Party Conference last October, though he obdurately denies that she was ever suspended.

It is a matter of public record that she was instructed to leave the school premises immediately and to ‘work from home’. No procedure was followed: Ms Birbalsingh was not given a copy of the school’s disciplinary policy or its suspension policy.

Ms Birbalsingh was threatened with disciplinary action (for an unspecified misdemeanour); she was bullied, intimidated and forced to resign her position as deputy head just a month into her employment, though Canon Clark is uncompromising in his assertion that she resigned of her own free will.

Since October 2010, there has been a respectful silence observed by both parties, presumably as they attempt to reach some sort of compromise agreement in order to avoid a Tribunal.

Canon Clark unilaterally saw fit to break this silence last Sunday in the Mail on Sunday. In the article, he disparaged and defamed Ms Birbalsingh, effectively framing her by alleging that she was responsible for the school’s declining roll. It was a calculated and barbed attack on her integrity, making it extremely unlikely that a state school in the UK will ever employ her again. Further, Canon Clark denied that Ms Birbalsingh’s observations of systematic failure in the education system could possibly be applied to Saint Michael and All Angels (though they were not, in any case, directed at the school), and the evidence he adduced to support this contention was a further Ofsted progress report dated December 2010.

Ms Birbalsingh left in October 2010.

At best, we have Canon Clark’s cunning chronological sleight, attempting to fob us off with a redacted report retrospectively applied; at worst, we have an egregious example of Ofsted’s own incompetence which permits Canon Clark to spin this report to 'my name is Doctor’ Irene Bishop’s content.

Yet there is one glaring anomaly:

In May 2010, when Mrs Susan Graham was Headteacher, Ofsted found the school to be deficient in so many areas that it was awarded ‘4’ (‘inadequate’) overall. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector was of the opinion that this school ‘requires significant improvement, because it is performing significantly less well than in all the circumstances it could reasonably be expected to perform. The school is therefore given a notice to improve’. The sixth form curriculum was judged to be actually preventing students from accessing courses that meet their needs, interests and aspirations; educational outcomes for individuals and groups of pupils was graded ‘4’; the inspectors found evidence of ‘inadequate’ teaching; and pupil behaviour was also graded ‘4’.

In December 2010, Ofsted carried out a progress inspection, in which they found evidence of improvement, and cite the most recent GCSE results as corroborative evidence:
Students’ achievement is improving quickly. GCSE examination results rose sharply in 2010 and these students made more progress than expected given their low starting points in Year 7. Sixth form achievement has also improved: students taking A level examinations in 2010 achieved much more than those who took them in 2009.
And so they heap praise upon Mrs Bishop, whom they term ‘a National Leader in Education’ (...upper case).

Except that these are the results are from exams taken last May, during the first Ofsted inspection.

Mrs Bishop could not possibly have been responsible for any quantitative improvement in student attainment: if anyone should be credited for these improved results, it must surely be the longsuffering staff and Mrs Bishop’s predecessor, Mrs Graham, who was headteacher while students were sitting the exams from which these results are drawn.

While Ofsted show themselves deficient if not downright incompetent in attributing raising standards of attainment to Mrs Bishop, it is disingenuous of Canon Clark to attempt to spin this report in a manner he knows to be false.

But, as we have seen, he has a capacity (if not a propensity) for disinformation.

His Grace has still not heard from Canon Clark, but he hopes to do so before too long.

For the next revelation (which may be made at some point today) is not quite sub judice, but the court case is now only days away.

And it constitutes incontrovertible evidence that the St Michael and All Angels Academy has a chronic history of harassment and bullying by its headteachers, apparently with the collusion and cover-up of its Governing Body.

The Diocese of Southwark Board of Education adopts a distinct ethos:
Recognising its historic foundation, the school will preserve and develop its religious character in accordance with the principles of the Church of England and in partnership with the Church at parish and Diocesan level.

The school aims to serve its community by providing an education of the highest quality within the context of Christian belief and practice. It encourages an understanding of the meaning and significance of faith and promotes Christian values through the experience it offers to all its pupils.
The Governing Body would do well reflect seriously on these Christian values, and consider the extent to which they are promoted through the experience they offer not only to their pupils but also to all their staff.

For if 106 have left over recent years, and whistleblowers (those who seek to bring light and truth) are harassed, bullied, defamed and driven out – such that they are left with no recourse but to pursue their grievance through the courts – what manner of Christian belief and practice is manifest? What witness is this in the world and to the world?

In the administration of justice and the arbitration of truth, Dr Ipgrave and Canon Clark have shown themselves to be deficient, dishonest and disingenuous.

One must hope, with the impending closure and reconstruction of this academy, that it is not only the buildings which are razed.

35 Comments:

Blogger dazhat said...

The person you are going after may have done something wrong but is it morally acceptable for you to attack him in this way?

For instance why not just release all of the information? If it is of value to people and it is "in the public interest" then why have the long drawn out process of bringing it out day by day. Indeed you say that he can stop it by sending you and email with an apology but if this information should be brought out then it the apology is irrelevant.

2 February 2011 at 09:55  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

Truth and Integrity are the minimum requirements needed for leaders of these institutions and so to find that these people behave just like the Blair administration did, spinning and lying to suit their own ends, is a very sad state of affairs. I commend YG for bringing this to light and hope that others will follow your example and expose this type of practice where ever it raises it's ugly head.

2 February 2011 at 10:10  
Anonymous Fallon Gong said...

A few issues here .

Cranmer you state :

"It is a matter of public record that she was instructed to leave the school premises immediately and to ‘work from home’. No procedure was followed: Ms Birbalsingh was not given a copy of the school’s disciplinary policy or its suspension policy.

Ms Birbalsingh was threatened with disciplinary action (for an unspecified misdemeanour); she was bullied, intimidated and forced to resign her position as deputy head just a month into her employment, though Canon Clark is uncompromising in his assertion that she resigned of her own free will."

If all of the above is true and can be proven, then it is clear that Ms Birbalsingh would get a hefty payout if it did go to tribunal- hell she could afford a good lawyer (who unlike Cranny is actually trained in law )that with the newspaper column and the royalties of her book. So why doesn't she do it, so we can read something a bit more important on this blog, rather than having it being used in this way ??

"Since October 2010, there has been a respectful silence observed by both parties, presumably as they attempt to reach some sort of compromise agreement in order to avoid a Tribunal".

Is Cranmer speaking in a formal capacity as an aide to Ms Birbalsingh and is he aware of how these posts might hurt Ms Birbalsingh's case?

"Canon Clark unilaterally saw fit to break this silence last Sunday in the Mail on Sunday. In the article, he disparaged and defamed Ms Birbalsingh... It was a calculated and barbed attack on her integrity, making it extremely unlikely that a state school in the UK will ever employ her again".

Then are you suggesting or telling her to sue and if the case is that watertight then why doesn't she?

Finally, given that there thousands of other cases in which employees have been bullied,hurt and badly treated, but unlike Ms Birbalsingh they have not gone to Tory party conferences.

So do people who want the backing of Cranmer, need to go to Tory party conferences in order to get not just one, but several blog posts on matters which occur all over the country (not that you care about any of those?).

Also, do these posts go through to Ms Birbalsingh, so she can check them or are you acting as one of Lenin's "useful idiots", i.e. someone who is trying to be helpful, but will in all probability end up hurting Ms Birbalsingh case?

2 February 2011 at 10:36  
Anonymous JayBee said...

106 teachers leaving must be a world record. Given the disquiet expressed by all the Unions and the findings contained in the Ofsted reports surely somebody on the Diocesan Board of Education could have read the signs. Were the Board Chair and the Director of Education dozing during this reign of terror?

2 February 2011 at 10:43  
Blogger jdennis_99 said...

@dazhat:

Apology is the beginning of redemption. I suspect that this is what His Grace is aiming for.

2 February 2011 at 10:46  
Anonymous Charles Dance said...

Seems to me that Cranny is firing all the guns before battle has started.Perhaps keeping quite until after the tribunal case (as it looks like this is where it is going ) would be best?

2 February 2011 at 10:52  
Anonymous English Tea Party said...

It's about time some-one destroyed the leftish tosh that goes on in our schools- hooray for Cranmer!

2 February 2011 at 10:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cranmer is letting his ideology and personal feelings get the better of him. He should be consulting a lawyer before this gets out of hand.

2 February 2011 at 11:00  
Anonymous Darth Tyrannus said...

God, I wouldn't want piss Cranny off- hell has no fury like a speech at the tory party conference!

Next Canon Peter Clark will have a horses head nailed to his front door!

It is of course amusing that a man who blogs about Christianity is so consumed by hatred and anger.

Is Cranmer really a Sith Lord?

2 February 2011 at 11:08  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Darth Tyrannus,

This is not hatred.

Indeed, His Grace has nothing personally against any of the key players in this fiasco, for he has never met them.

It is more sorrow and pity.

And if you think it somehow un-Christian to manifest anger, you need to read the Bible.

2 February 2011 at 11:11  
Anonymous Taylor said...

@Fallon Gong
What a strange and totalitarian mindset you betray:

"do these posts go through to Ms Birbalsingh, so she can check them"

I should imagine this concerns only Ms Birbalsingh and HG. What possible business could it be of yours? And since you question HGs legitimacy in pursuing this matter at all: Why should you care?


I believe that we are still free to help those whom we might choose. And can we not blog as we choose, without first clearing it with some central authority - such as yourself perhaps?

If HGs shared allegiances lead him to the assistance of just one person, then I should think that better than simply walking away from all.

Cowardice requires little enough encouragement as it is.

2 February 2011 at 11:11  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

I have to say his Grace shows his ability to use evidence like a boxing champion's uppercut in this article.

2 February 2011 at 11:13  
Blogger Conand said...

Just to get this straight:

A teacher can't speak out about the education system but Bishops can campaign to change the voting system.

The CoE (under this Archbishop of Canterbury especially) is a complete farce. If I was a headteacher I'd call them into my office and tell them: 'You've let your flock down, you've let Mr Jesus down and you've let HM The Queen down.'

2 February 2011 at 11:15  
Anonymous Fallon Gong said...

Taylor said :
"And can we not blog as we choose, without first clearing it with some central authority - such as yourself perhaps?"

An excellent idea, thank you for your suggestion.

2 February 2011 at 11:22  
Anonymous Emperor Palpatine said...

@Darth Tyrannus, you look at the wrong clergy. It is the Canon who will embrace the dark side...arise apprentice Darth Malevolent!

2 February 2011 at 11:24  
Blogger neon said...

A simple point is being missed by some contributors here: Ms Birbalsingh is, by any reasonable standard of decency and fairness, a victim of gross injustice and deserves an apology. What the hell as the fact that she chose to speak re her take on the state of education in general at a Tory conference got to do with that? That it was a *Tory* conference, I appreciate, won't endear her to sanctimonious lefties -- and they too are entitled to their opinion -- but that is no excuse for justifying her treatment or defending Clark.

2 February 2011 at 11:25  
Anonymous Devine Brown said...

@neon- because Birbalsingh politicised the school, by becoming a right wing lacky of the tory party.

2 February 2011 at 11:30  
Anonymous Taylor said...

@Fallon Gong

No, thank you.

2 February 2011 at 11:31  
Blogger neon said...

Devine Brown. Oh God you MUST be able to see how self-defeating, stupid and revealing that line is! Surely, you must.

2 February 2011 at 11:42  
Anonymous Devine Brown said...

@neon- no I don't, with Gove in charge of education (thanks to the Lib Dem traitors) we shall see the return of street urchins, chimmey sweeps, the workhouse, where only the rich take their children to schools- private schools of course. The left must be in the vanguard of stopping the arch-neocons and this starts at home!

2 February 2011 at 11:50  
Blogger Alan Douglas said...

Fallong Gong "Finally, given that there thousands of other cases in which employees have been bullied,hurt and badly treated, but unlike Ms Birbalsingh they have not gone to Tory party conferences."

Errr ... didn't the bullying start AFTER the Conference ? I recall no mention by Miss B of her being bullied in her speech. I do recall, though, on her former blog, her writing that she had some exciting news come September, ie her new job. Did not sound like a complaint of bullying then because there was NONE.

GF, do try and stick to at least a real time-line when making your Useful Idiot interventions.

Alan Douglas

2 February 2011 at 11:56  
Blogger linda Mathew said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2 February 2011 at 12:00  
Blogger neon said...

Devine Brown. Uh, yeah, as I said you're entitled to your opinion (however much cognitive dissonance you must needs apply in order to keep it). BESIDES THE POINT. She was treated unfairly and deserves an apology. Because she's wrong (as you see it) does not justify this outrage. My original question stands.

2 February 2011 at 12:11  
Blogger Alan Douglas said...

Devine Brown - was that not the name of a Hollywood lady whose honour was anybody's, for a price ? Your choice of nickname betrays, shall we say, your divine sense of humour.

Alan Douglas

2 February 2011 at 12:14  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Fancy writing something about the "Big Society", now that the Big Society Tsar has reduced his voluntary hours in the job in order to earn more money instead?

Hilarious.

2 February 2011 at 13:03  
Blogger Roger Pearse said...

Some parish clergy are decent people, underpaid, selfless, who get little return for a life-time of dedication. To attack such people is wrong.

On the other hand the church of England has always had a cadre of self-seeking climbers. These people are characterised by lots of pious-sounding touchy-feeliness, combined with a hard-eyed ruthlessness where their own interests and ideology -- always that of the period in which they live, not that of Christ -- are concerned.

The Birbalsingh scandal was a disgrace, and you do well to highlight it, and to pursue those responsible.

2 February 2011 at 13:42  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

That's more like it Cranmer ... keeping it to the facts of the case - not letters published in a parish newspaper 10 years ago over a contentious issue; not based on opinions about church architecture; not completely misrepresenting a good deed as something malevolent.

Personally - if my knowledge of school governorship and the hierarchies of the CofE are at all representative - I suspect we will find that this is going to be a case of a well-meaning man (or maybe for reasons of ego as you suspect) finding himself way out of his depth and making things up as he goes along. I suspect you will find similar situations in many inner-city schools throughout the country, where there aren't exactly queues of people offering themselves to take on the responsibilities of being a school governor. Fortunately for them, they will probably not find themselves in the glare of the national media.

I see nothing from your post of yesterday from which I can draw the conclusion that Canon Peter is a malevolent, boastful, bitter-hearted 'viper'. What I believe I saw instead was someone whose passion led him to break the 9th commandment.

As a regular reader & comment maker, I am sorry if you feel I have "lurched from my lair" to take issue with you (not on the minutiae as you claim, but on the very substance of your accusations). Indeed, trawling through 10 year old articles in order to find accusations against a man's character, or slurring his name based on his views of ecclesiastical buildings might be considered as "taking issue with the minutiae".

Look forward to when normal business can be resumed.

2 February 2011 at 14:08  
Anonymous Devine Brown said...

Alan Douglas- I'll do anything... for the right price.

2 February 2011 at 14:47  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Rebel Saint said "Look forward to when normal business can be resumed".

Amen to that,as whilst this is clearly important to his Grace and the individuals concerned, perhaps it would be better for a formal hearing- a tribunal/court case- to decide upon the merits of these views rather than the court of this blog?

In any case, there are quite a few world events which his Grace is missing, which will have a far greater impact upon his own, Ms Birbalsingh's and every other communicant here (wait till the Muslim Brotherhood takes control of Egypt and closes down the Suez Canal- not even Moses could re-route all that shipping).

2 February 2011 at 14:52  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The obvious thing now is to have a Public Enquiry by Gove's Department. It is ridiculous that public money has been wasted so blatantly and that education - which is so very basic in its core elements - is not delivered but posturing by adults is present and palpably so.

Your Grace does the C of E great honour by thinking its senior clerics are selfless and altruistic. So many seem to be like Jon Snow, son of a Bishop in their sanctimonious and supercilious pomposity.

There are some in the Church of England who would have been passing nails to Roman soldiers at Calvary

2 February 2011 at 14:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For the next revelation (which may be made at some point today) is not quite sub judice, but the court case is now only days away."

This is becoming like a saga out of the TV show Dallas or Corrie...or a tabloid. Can't wait to tune into the next episode!

2 February 2011 at 15:11  
Anonymous francis said...

Yes, Rebel Saint, it's a relief to see HG recover somewhat after his severe wobble yesterday. Funny, though, that you and I - both long-time readers of his blog, though I comment but seldom - have become "critics [who] crawl out of their crypts and lurch from their lairs", when the principal concern of, I think, both of us was that he was damaging his own case by spending most of his comments on ill-judged forays into areas which he now wishes to describe as "minutiae"!

2 February 2011 at 16:03  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Oooh, several 'new names' exuding from the wainscoating on this one!

2 February 2011 at 17:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

REVELATION 1

Mr Butler is Vice Principal-
Who is he related to ??
Check the Southwark Diocese

3 February 2011 at 14:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the timeline for the events?
When was KB appointed?
When did she address the conservative conference?
When was the decision to close the school/academy made?
How many teaching appointmets were made after the decision to close?
When was that decision made public.
Did Michael Gove know what KB was going to say at the conference?
And if not, who did?

4 February 2011 at 21:34  

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