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Thursday 10 October 2013

The Curse Of Toby Young Strikes

[Update at end of post]

Last April, the loathsome Toby Young took to the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs to pass adverse comment on a political opponent: “Scarcely a day passes without some Left-wing dinosaur making a fool of themselves over education policy. Today it was the turn of Paul Dimoldenberg, a Labour councillor in Westminster” he observed. And what was this all about?
Ah well. This was the controversial appointment of one Annaliese Briggs to the post of head teacher at Pimlico Primary, a newly-opened Free School. As the BBC noted, “The school is sponsored by Future, a charity founded by John and Caroline Nash. Mr Nash is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools”. Ms Briggs had not at that point obtained any teaching qualification.

Nor did she have any previous teaching experience, though to read Tobes’ defence, you might have thought otherwise: “In fact, Ms Briggs has taught in a school – several schools. Employed by Civitas, the well-known education think tank, she helped run Civitas Schools, a network of after-school classes and Saturday schools across the country”. Good sleight of hand there, Tobes.

And the criticism wouldn’t make any difference. “Pimlico Primary isn't a local authority-run school so the council has no say over who's hired to run it”. As for those pesky qualifications, “Left-wing critics of free schools and academies are constantly harping on about the fact that they're allowed to hire ‘unqualified’ staff, by which they mean teachers who don't have the union-approved bit of paper”.

Yeah, see, rotten lefty types? Free Schools mean that Tobes and his pals can appoint who they like and you Union sorts can just go whistle. Yes, he was crowing something wonderful back in April. But yesterday afternoon Toby Young was silent, and hoping nobody would notice. Because Ms Briggs, who he claimed was up to the job of being Pimlico Primary’s head teacher, admitted she wasn’t.

Yes, as the deeply subversive Guardian has revealed, “A 27-year-old headteacher controversially appointed to take over a free school despite having no teaching qualifications has left her job”. Why so? “Sources close to the academy say she was finding it difficult to cope with the workload. One local teacher said ‘She was not happy because she could not cope with the job, full stop’”.

Pimlico Primary, although it is expected to have 420 pupils by 2019, opened its doors last month to just 60. And even that, it seems, was too much for Ms Briggs. Councillor Dimoldenberg observed “By giving the job to a person with no teaching qualifications and without the necessary experience, the authorities may have contributed to a difficult situation for her and the parents, staff and pupils”.

And so difficult for Toby Young that he has gone quiet. Small mercies, and all that.

[UPDATE 11 October 0730 hours: the loathsome Tobes has now made his excuses, wrapped in a lame attempt to shift the blame for unqualified teachers to Labour, pointing the finger at Tristram Hunt, who on occasion teaches history at local schools in his constituency. But there is a world of difference between someone doing occasional classes under the supervision of qualified teachers, and those running schools, as Ms Briggs was attempting to do at Pimlico Primary.

He then says that it's no big deal because qualified head teachers sometimes resign, which is to miss the point altogether. Ms Briggs threw in the towel after only one month, and the school roll was no larger than 15% of its target. No deployment of excuses about being pressured by the same councillors that Tobes has already said have no say in the running of the school can deflect from the facts of the matter.

Still, it gives him an excuse to whine about Trades Unions again, so that's another subject that he likes to sound off on, but in reality knows sweet Jack about. No change there, then]


organic cheeseboard said...

Her resignation was probably the single most predictable event of the last 12 months. In his article Young says:

it's for parents to decide whether they want their children to be taught by teachers without PGCEs

Well, ok. Though almost all independent school appointments - which young is talking about - will insist on a PGCE or the undertaking of similar in order to appoint.

As far as I can tell, Briggs took a SCITT last year - supposedly an on-the-job training course and the equivalent of the PGCE, and they can be very good - though she would probably not be officially qualified until the end of this coming year, meaning that the appointment is even more baffling since the NQT/QTS system is designed to ease people into the workload - appointing a SCITT graduate as a head makes literally no sense. Unless, of course, it was a political ruse designed to prove that teachers are all workshy moaners and that Westminster wonks are far more capable than experienced headteachers.

Not really gone to plan, that one.

organic cheesboard said...

His dreadful 'reply' is surely worth an update.

young toby said...

Toby had written a defence. It is getting trashed by Telegraph readers - again.

Unknown said...

"it's for parents to decide whether they want their children to be taught by teachers without PGCEs"

Which is bollocks, obviously, if all schools are allowed to hire unqualified teachers, which is the plan. What do you do, ask in the playground in the morning and order the school to send Little Johnny to the library if someone's qualifications aren't up to snuff? As if.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Mr Gove has to say about all this? Low profile when it hits the fan as usual.

What really concerns me is the education of the children at this "school" and the fact that this girl will probably get another job in "education".

organic cheeseboard said...

Probably worth mentioning here, too, that almost every teacher at the school Toby Young is involved with has a PGCE or equivalent, according to the bios on its website - and I'd be willing to bet that almost all of them do, whether it says it on their bios or not.