Monday, March 31, 2008

Afrika Speaks with Alkebu-Lan

Afrika Speaks with Alkebu-Lan,
Voice of Africa Radio!
94.3 FM
MONDAYS 8pm-10pm

Hear weekly discussions and lively debate on all issues affecting the Afrikan community, at home and abroad.

We talk it straight and make it plain!

This week’s show: (31st March 2008)

When the Seventh Day Adventist John Loughborough School was founded as a private school in 1982 with an Afrikan leadership team, it was seen as a beacon of hope in addressing the decades old pattern of underachievement for Afrikan children in British School. In the early years it seemed as if that hope was being fulfilled.

In 1999 the school opted for Local Authority control and gained Voluntary Aided status and in recent years the school has faced a number of challenges. Between 2003 and 2005 was without a permanent head teacher and academic attainment has also fallen short of the expected high standards, although interpretation of recent results has proved to be contentious.

In September 2005 Dr June Alexis, an alumni of the Urban Head teacher Assessment Centre became head teacher and set about implementing her vision of taking the school forward. Her work was praised by Haringey Council’s School Standards and Inclusion in April 2006. The school was inspected by the Office For Standards in Education (Ofsted) in February 2007. Whilst recognising that “The new leadership team are bringing about change that is improving the school” and acknowledging Dr Alexis’ “passion”, “vision”, and “ambitious plans”, the school was given a notice to improve.

Since then Haringey Council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services (CYPS) Ms Sharon Shoesmith, has agitated for Dr Alexis’ dismissal, despite the support of the Board of Governors, the student body, the parents and most of the staff. Observers say the school is being treated as if it is under special measures rather than a notice to improveand that the Council’s strategy is intended to unsettle the school, stifling it capacity to improve. The Council maintains that it’s actions are designed to bring about the necessary improvements in the school, while the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) regard it as a prelude to closing the school down given that Ms Shoesmith has reportedly said that the school was an “unnecessary expense” on the local budget and that the children could be dispersed throughout the borough. In an attempt clarify the issues the school commissioned leading educational consultant Professor Gus John in December 2007 to conduct an independent investigation, however Haringey Council refused to co-operate with the inquiry.

In February 2008 Haringey Council suspends Dr Alexis outraging parents and students and instigating mass demonstrations that attracts the attention of TV news and local and national press. In march 2008 the council continues its offensive by serving injunctions against three church elders (friends & founders of John Loughborough School) who have been vocal in their support for Dr Alexis, the Chair of the PTA and the PTA Executive Adviser.

What we ask is :

Is Haringey Council Trying To Close an Afrikan-Caribbean School?
Is Haringey Council taking the only necessary steps to improve standards at John Loughborough School?
Is Haringey Council’s treatment of the school consistent with that of schools with lower attainment?
Will taking out injunctions against church and PTA members help to resolve the issues?
Why did Haringey Council refuse to co-operate with the Prof Gus John investigation and what were its findings?
Do Afrikan led schools improve attainment for Afrikan children?
What are the wider implications for the education of Afrikan children in Britain?

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