Headline Oct 04, 2014/

''' O'' LORD : 


Last year, as the summer holidays approached,  the  Greenwich Free School (GFS)  celebrated the end of its first year with a trip to the seaside at Broadstairs.

Everyone enjoyed it : London was blistering and GFS, which was launched under a scheme to   liberate schools  from local authority control, had only a small patch of grass outside its huddle of temporary classrooms.

But for a dozen of its  11-year-old  pupils the trip was especially wonderful, because they had not seen the sea before.

The school is a tough quarter. In the grounds of derelict nurses dormitory -which will be converted into classrooms over the holidays  -it is close to the Shooter's Hill housing estate, one of London's grimmest.

The name is an old one, perhaps referring to the 17-century highwaymen who once haunted the area; but some residents have kept it topical.

A vast acreage of mean streets and tower blocks, the estate is crime-ridden. Over a third of  GFS'S  100 pupils receive free school meals because their parents are poor.

Many came from such   ''chaotic backgrounds'' , in the careful phrase of Lee Faith, the  35 year old headmaster, that they barely knew how to eat, talk or otherwise behave in public.

A visit by a reknowned  observer found that between classes, the kids scuffed quietly into line, wearing grey trousers, skirts and blazers stamped with the school crest  - a silver compass to denote the nearby Greenwich observatory.

The uniform is compulsory, as is the orderliness, and rule-breaking is not tolerated.

The pupils carry green cardboard detention cards, on which they accrue for even small misdemeanours.  If they accrue too many, they face a ten minute detention after lunch.

If they accrue a lot, they are hauled in on a Saturday morning for extra tuition.

Remarkably, given that the school gave a place to every pupil who wanted one, including some pretty troubled children, this has only happened twice.

No pupil has been expelled and, even with the riot of adolescence approaching, Mr Faith does not expect any to be.

Most pupils see the sense of the discipline. It distinguishes them from the wastrels outside their gates and means that they don't lose valuable learning time.

And it is valuable. And the observer watched a lesson on the end of slavery in America become a sophisticated discussion of historiography; a science lesson, on gravity and pressure, morphed into a design class-

The children had to design a contraption to stop an egg breaking on impact with the floor.

Every child was involved and cajoled, to form judgements and ask questions -even if these were sometimes, as on a noticeboard in the science classroom, rather lavatorial:

''Why is bird poo white?''   ''Why do you throw up sometime?''

GFS is too young to be inspected by the government watchdog,  Ofsted   -so it arranged an extraordinary inspection.

The inspector said he had seen  more   ''awe and wonder''  in two days at GFS  than during two years of inspecting schools.

If only every local child could experience that. But GFS is now six times oversubscribed.

No wonder advisers to Michael Gove, the dynamic Conservative secretary, rave about the school.

His academies programme, which has given autonomy to over half of England's 2,000 secondary schools, is one of the government's most touted reforms.

And start up free schools such as GFS are where the innovations it is designed to encourage are most evident.

The Honour and serving of the research continues. Thank you for reading. And see ya on the following one.

So, an inner-city school is providing plenty of hope for British education.

With respectful dedication to the Leaders of the developing world. See Ya all Your Excellencies, on !WOW!   -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' The Flying Carpet ''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!