Sunday, November 16, 2008

Haringey Heads Support Smacks Of Politics

Haringey head teachers swift support for beleaguered child services head Sharon Shoesmith smacks of political skulduggery. What were teachers doing sticking up for a social services boss who faces harsh criticism over the Baby P case? 

The Orange Party smells party politics at work at this Labour-run council, something Brown was quick to criticise during his robotic commons performance.  

Haringey is a political battleround. New Labour and the LibDems slug it out both on the local council and between its two politically astute MPs, New Labour's David Lammy in Tottenham and the LibDems Lynne Featherstone a former Haringey councillor over in Wood Green and Hornsey, a fierce critic of both the council and Shoesmith. 

The letter of support from the heads was released through the Press Association news agency. The identical story was taken on face value and quickly did the rounds of the news and media world wide. Few if any further checks were made on where and how the story originated.

The letter says Shoemith is an "outstanding public servant," despite calls for her to resign over the death of Baby P. Both the council and government are at the centre of this storm.

This comes after schools secretary Ed Balls was forced to say he's sorry and ordered an independent investigation into child protection at the council. And the government faces searching questions after being warned about Haringey months before the toddler's death.

There's no indication as to whether the heads are speaking independently, as a Haringey Headteacher's Federation or as members of the education group, Common Purpose.  Nor any indication who wrote the news release, who instigated it and how was it was distributed.

BBC News was one of the few to quote one of the heads, Alex Atherton, of Park View Academy in Haringey. The excellent Newssniffer tracks the BBC version as it changed in content.

A look at Haringey schools shows the extend to which they are embedded in the New Labour obsession with academies, school targets and spin. 

In 2006, Tottenham MP David Lammy, heaped praise on Haringey schools and pupils including Atherton.

Only last year Haringey was at centre of a row over paying a headteacher a whacking £40,000 golden hello to attract the right candidate. Aydin Onac, head of Fortismere school, was forced to defended his pay package. 

With more than 60 head teachers from Haringey coming out in support of Shoesmith, that begged the question, just what has the whole question of child protection got to to do with a bunch of teachers? 

LibDem Norfolk blogger described this as "an ill- thought out letter of support from head teachers in Haringey". TES community bloggers asked if Haringey heads should be involving themselves in the Baby P affair.

The fact that more than 60 heads can organise and be orchestrated in this way in a north London borough riddled with party political infighting, shows more political damage limitaton than genuine concern. 

If this was a simply a case of party political squabbles, it wouldn't merit national attention but the shocking case of Baby P and its consequences caused outrage.

As national journalists got their teeth into this whole case and dug underneath Haringey, the whole issue uncovered a can of worms which is only now beginning to unravel, with further shocking revelations in today's Times, MailTelegraph and many others. 


Anonymous said...

Maybe as Headteachers they were worried about their position (that they would be removed from post by force).

See as a starting point -

BlastarrBXIII said...

Nobody ever got down to naming these 61 Primary Headteachers and 7 secondary headsteachers.

Those who supported the sacked and discredited Sharon Shoesmith in this way. says they have 61 Primary Schools, so that identifies them for starters.
All those HT's employed mid Nov 2008.

Just leaves the seven Headteachers out of 11 Haringey Secondary schools.

Mandla Mbandaka asked Cllr George Meehn
Leader of Haringey Council
on the 18/11/2008 who they were, but it is very doubtful a satisfactory answer was received.

Cllr George Meehn has since been 'blown away'. He had to resign.

It would be interesting to do a follow up on this, what with the current National union of teachers conference going on.

As we have seen with 'Guido'.
Newspapers are far too corrupted to do the job they used to.
Investigative journalism.

This is now down to bloggers.
Anyone at your end up to it!!.