Following on from my last post detailing the planned closure of my children’s school and the need to home school them from this September onwards I had intended to write a post about the advantages of home schooling. However, that post will have to wait a few days after recent events surrounding the campaign to save St Bees School. Apologies to international readers for whom this has less interest – those that know me well, however, know that corruption gets my goat whether it be internationally or local and that has never changed.
You may recall my disgust at the duplicity of the governors who have spoken words dripping with honey about how they desperately ‘wish the school could be saved’ and how they are ready to ‘work with anyone’ who comes up with a plan which will work while simultaneously forcing through closure with disgraceful speed and force. Throughout all those attempts to persuade the governors that a plan had indeed been formed it was always assumed that the board was a body of gentlemen.
When the Rescue Team’s attempts to see reason with this board failed just a couple of weeks ago The Save St Bees School Campaign (SSBSC) kicked into action. After receiving a public mandate to remove the governors by use of legal force, the committee began work. Just as with the Rescue Team, much of the work has been ‘behind the scenes’ but unlike the Rescue Team no attempt was made to converse with the governors. They had to go; pure and simple. No discussion needed.
It is quite clear now that the efforts of this campaign has made the board extremely uncomfortable. We knew this from various sources but yesterday (Friday 1st May) their disquiet was made public along with ample evidence of how perverse this board has become.
Yesterday, Paul Davies – the chief spokesperson if not leader of the campaign (though we prefer to think of him as “bad cop” to the Rescue Team’s ‘good cop’ approach) – received notification from the solicitors for the school that he was to be sued for a considerable sum of money for use of a photograph on the SSBSC website. In effect, the governors (or their representatives presumably working on their behalf) decided to use school money to pursue a parent (who pays his fees to the school) for trying to save the school. School money the board claim they don’t have to spare because that’s the very reason why the school is closing.
Frankly, this behaviour is repugnant. There is no doubt this is an attempt to scare off the man who is behind a campaign whose sole aim is to see education continue at the school. Yes, it is continuing on the belief, now shared by almost everyone, that the governors have got to go (I’ve yet to meet a single parent, staff member, villager or even Parish Council member who has any kind or gracious word to say about the governors – not even a dissenting word of support on any of the Facebook forums) but only so that new governance can be sworn in as soon as possible to turn the school around.
Can there be any place for a governing body which thinks the answer to opposition is to silence it with fear and intimidation? Is that what we teach our children?
One of the definitions of ‘malignant’ is: feeling or showing intense ill-will (Oxford Reference dictionary). Another is: cancerous, tending to spread.
I contend the governors have shown they fulfill both these definitions. The lawsuit against Paul Davies is clearly of the first; but that they feel so above the people, above principles and even above their own rules and are prepared to attack from any direction shows them to be nothing but a cancerous tumour insidiously creeping through the school establishment until there is nothing left to save.
Initially, we all felt shocked and sick to our stomachs when Paul showed us the notification. But then, Paul, rather characteristically, rolled up his sleeves and said “right then. It’s like that is it?” and stepped up the work to make sure these people are kept as far away as possible from education. Rather than scare him off, the governors have ensured he’ll fight to the bitter end.
The SSBSC all now feel rather thankful to the governors for hammering in perhaps a final nail in their own coffin. After all, until now their condescendingly assuring words have sent mixed messages. Surely such illustrious and learned men really are honourable gentlemen forced into a difficult and painful situation beyond their control? Well, there is no doubt now. These are men who will do anything to save face and force a closure before the school and community have had a chance to do anything about it. Indeed, I don’t believe they ever wanted anyone to do anything about it.
But then cancer doesn’t wait for permission to kill, does it?
Please sign our petition to remove the governors here.
The Save St Bees School Campaign Facebook page can be found here.
The SSBSC website is found here and is full of stories, inspiring and warning of what the future might hold, which need sharing.
Author’s Note: It is possible, I guess, as I don’t know all the members of the board personally that some of the governors are good people who are just as shocked as we that the decision to close was pushed through so forcefully and were powerless to stop it. The opinions I express here wouldn’t apply to such a person. But as I have not been made aware of any such person currently on the board, I can only surmise – until otherwise demonstrated – that such a benevolent governor is a fictional character.