Don’t blame pupils

PUBLISHED: 11:45 02 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:42 06 May 2010

I would like to respond to the letter in last week s Comet Pupils should have done better. I am sorry that Name Withheld of Stevenage is angered by parents and pupils response to the proposed closure of Collenswood School. Obviously Name Withheld s chi

I would like to respond to the letter in last week's Comet 'Pupils should have done better.'

I am sorry that Name Withheld of Stevenage is angered by parents and pupils response to the proposed closure of Collenswood School. Obviously Name Withheld's children do not attend Collenswood.

My son did well at Collenswood leaving with eight GCSEs all grades A to C in June 2003. My daughter joined the school in September 2003 and we had no inkling that there was a problem and that the school had had a bad OFSTED report.

As a parent who is concerned about my children's education I feel let down by the school and LEA. All reports home from the school, following the inspector's visits, said that Collenswood was making good progress. If, we parents, had been given all the facts we would have been getting involved in our children's education back in 2003/4.

I do not agree that the pupils are to blame for the failure of this school. And it is being derogatory saying that the attitude of Stevenage is that education is unnecessary and what qualifications do you need to be on income support. My husband and I have always encouraged our children to get a good education and there must thousands of parents in Stevenage who do the same.

I, also, do not agree that a school is only as good as the pupils who attend it. Most of the teachers at Collenswood, in my experience, over the years have been very good. However my daughter has told me that, over a three-day period, she had supply teachers for half her lessons. Before Christmas there was no teacher at all for one lesson and the pupils sat outside the classroom for 40 minutes.

A concerned member of the public also wrote in last week's Comet that the Collenswood parents have been making negative comments towards Barnwell. Following a very useful meeting with Mr Westergreen-Thorne, on Thursday, I am very happy that Mr Westergreen-Thorne's plans, for the new expanded Barnwell School, from September 2006 are in the best interests of our children.

DIANE COLTHORPE, Trent Close, Stevenage

* I would like the opportunity to reply to the letter in last weeks Comet entitled 'Pupils should have done better.' The person who wrote that letter is quite right in their statement that the battle to prevent further school closures has just begun.

At the various meetings that have been held it has been made quite clear by the LEA that their intention is to rely on the government for funding to enable them to build super schools for Stevenage. I do hope that when the LEA propose closure or expansion of the school that their children go to, they are not too critical. I would hate to think that they would be in the same position as Mr Wyatt who now faces the prospect of having 100 overpriced poorly thought out four bedroom boxes with no parking being put on his doorstep. Yes, maybe the pupils could have done better but parents can only do so much.

I personally resent the implication that every parent of every child at Collenswood has sat back and watched the television whilst their child struggles with homework. Incidentally my family has never claimed income support.

The LEA is getting the blame because they are responsible for standards not pupils. At the meeting at County Hall on February 8, Justin Donovan admitted that they had made mistakes. He also told the meeting that they had tried a change of management when in fact the previous head left of his own free will. They then left the school leaderless before appointing a head who sadly has been lacking in the necessary leadership skills required for a school with the problems of Collenswood.

The person who wrote this letter is obviously very proud of the effort they have put in with respect to their children's education, it just seems a shame that they are obviously not proud enough to supply their name. Perhaps they think that us Neanderthals who give our children into the care of the LEA will do something they might regret. If this person had read any of the OFSTED reports they would have understood that the management and leadership of the school was the main thing being criticised. I have yet to see a school that is led by the 11 to 18-year-olds who walk through its gates.

CRIS MAIN, Park View, Stevenage

* I am writing in response to your letter by Name Withheld regarding the closure of Collenswood School. What an absolutely absurd suggestion that the closure is due to the lack of pupils willing to learn.

From this letter, we should be led to believe that all the unwilling to learn children have been sent to Collenswood School, therefore causing the closure. And that recent climb in Barnwell's results is not due to a great head teacher and an outstanding team of teachers, but is actually due to the fact that all the clever kinds go there! What a ludicrous thought.

I, as a parent, know that it is important that I not only encourage my children whilst doing their homework, but also I help them expand their education outside school too and get ready for a great future in life, whatever that may be.

I also know that if my child does not have a teacher who can capture their attention whilst teaching then they will begin to wander and once they get slightly off track, then the battle is lost. If a school wants to get better results, then surely they should be capturing and encouraging the minds of their students. A school, after all, is not just about its students, it is about the head teacher, teachers and teaching assistants, governors and parents, too. You cannot possibly have a school without all these parties working together as a team.

T TITMUSS, Shephall Way, Stevenage

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