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Newsnight

A "lost year of education" for Academy school?

  • Paul Mason
  • 7 Nov 06, 08:42 PM

I've been at the Paddington Academy in North London to see what staff and pupils there hope does not go down as the first big failure of the new public-private education system....

Its predecessor school, says the government, was failing: just 25% of pupils were leaving with 5 A-C grade GCSEs. The plan was for the school to "decant" to an older building for a term, then move into a brand new building, with an enriched curriculum specialising in media and performance, and - because the school is backed by a software charity - whizzy new computers.

Watch the film here

site203.jpgBut the plan went wrong. Instead of a single term, students face a year coping with facilities that - according to documents I've seen - are substandard. Toilets were, allegedly, a health hazard; less than half the computers worked; rubbish and graffiti greeted teachers arriving to start the new venture.

The delay in moving to the new school is due to a contract dispute between the builder, Gleeson, and a subcontractor working on the cladding. Nothing new there to anyone familiar with the construction industry: but managing that challenge has proved difficult; it was only last week that students were told they would not get into the new building until next September.

Padraic Finn, NUT rep for the borough, told me his members had to clean and decorate the temporary school in the first week of taking over.

But the situation has more than just the unions on the warpath. Former Labour minister Karen Buck MP, whose son attends Paddington Academy, has championed the move to Academy status: now she says the building is not fit for purpose and worries that there is no clear plan as to who will pay the estimated 1/2 million pounds needed - on top of 365,000 already advanced - to clean up the mess.

Paddington Academy is run by United Learning Trust - which already runs nine out of the 40 Academies in operation. Chief Executive Sir Ewan Harper told me that staff were not wholly wrong to be complaining about the state of the building but promised that the school could begin to deliver its curriculum- pointing to IT and other investments that have been brought forward from the new building.

But there is a wider issue: Academies are supposed to be better value than what Labour used to call "bog standard comprehensives": they cost more to set up, mainly because of the costs involved in single site procurement; but that is supposed to be offset by better academic results. However the National Audit Office says it's too soon to tell whether Academies are value for money, and education boffins have accused Academies of boosting their exam results by putting children through GNVQ exams, which count as four GCSEs.

But who will pay to sort out the problem? Westminster has certainly had enough of paying: its CEO told me the Academy should recover the cost from the builders; the academy is hoping Andrew Adonis, the education minister who has the thankless task of micromanaging this crisis, will come up with some taxpayers' money.

As I've been making this piece, I've been cold-called by numerous local campaigns against Academies - as word got round on the parent/teacher grapevine. But I think this case poses questions even for those who support Academies: if there are only 40 now and we're due to get more than 200 by 2010, where is the management skill within the Academy sector, and within government and LEAs, to manage challenges on this scale? Will we have to construct a whole layer of regulation and oversight to replace that relinquished by LEAs, and if so - what's the point?

The culture in councils like Westminster is to move away from providing education to regulating those who do; likewise government effectively assumes an arms' length role with Academies. Now there is project management and quantity surveying expertise inside councils, government and organisations like ULT - but clearly something has failed here, since the completion date has crept from next Christmas to next September. The purpose of bringing in private sector expertise is to make things work better. Clearly in this case they have not. Likewise, is there a danger that with so much personal kudos invested in Academies by top New Labour ministers is there a danger that third sector providers come to believe there is no effective penalty for failure?

These are all questions we wanted to ask Lord Adonis, the schools minister, who's heavily involved in sorting out this mess. But he's too busy to come on Newsnight. HE sent a statement:

"ULT have made a number of improvements to the North Wharf Road site – both over the summer and during the recent half term break - and will be doing more over the coming weeks. These include improvements to the Academy’s ICT, science labs and music facilities, which will ensure that a full curriculum can be delivered to students this year. The Department is working closely with ULT to support the Academy this year and to ensure that the Academy’s outstanding new buildings are completed in time for next summer. Academies are transforming results for the better across the country by replacing schools with a history of failure."

However, senior staff at the school believe parents might be justified in thinking a whole year of their children's education has been lost.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:56 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • c.i.dytor wrote:

The politically unfashionable fact is that the private sector in education is far far superior to the decrepit second-rate state sector. Why cannot the government allow parents to take their money in the form of vouchers into the private sactor? Why do so many foreign parents send their children to our boarding schools? Because they are excellent. Keep politicians out of education and let the market determine the reality. State education is poor.

  • 2.
  • At 10:58 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • c.i.dytor wrote:

The politically unfashionable fact is that the private sector in education is far far superior to the decrepit second-rate state sector. Why cannot the government allow parents to take their money in the form of vouchers into the private sactor? Why do so many foreign parents send their children to our boarding schools? Because they are excellent. Keep politicians out of education and let the market determine the reality. State education is poor.

  • 3.
  • At 05:01 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • M Fordham wrote:

I take great offence at the comments of c.i.dytor. I am currently training to teach in a state comprehensive school, and I have seen nothing but high quality education from highly qualified teachers who really believe in what they're doing.

The issue is not about education. It's about society. The social issue that c.i.dyotr refers to is whether it is correct for the rich to subsidise the poor. That's a social issue that everyone needs to think through, though I would encourage people to consider both the short and long term consequences of a society in which this does not happen.

One's philosophy dictates such issues. Please do not confuse this with a simplistic view of the education system where every day thousands of teachers work incredibly hard to make a difference.

  • 4.
  • At 09:54 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • johann kuschmack wrote:

It is sad to see, the Britsch schools are a bit like the German ones too.Not enough investations have the consequence that the service is poor. These poor investations have been made since too many years and that means the result of poor service.

  • 5.
  • At 11:25 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Ray Sirotkin wrote:

I agree with M Fordham who perhaps has an understanding of the reality of the state sector.
However, let us answer C I Dytor's questions:
Why do foreign parents send their children here? The answer is because they have money. In many cases, in their own countries, state education has been ripped bare and most children go without - unless we are to believe that Eton is full of refugees from the Gaza, shanty town dwellers from Sao Paulo or the urban poor of Soweto.
Of course, the private sector is doing so well that they are thinking of ditching A Levels as the state sector has overtaken them without hand picking their entrants.

R Sirotkin
(North London High Achieving Comprehensive School Educated)

  • 6.
  • At 07:54 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • H Watson wrote:

State sector education is not, universally, "poor". There are tens of thousands of schools around the country that provide either satisfactory, good or excellent education to many children - and none of these are fee-paying. There are hundreds of thousands of children who leave state schools to go onto successful careers at university (even, shockingly(?), the top universities) or in the trades, and none of these would consider their state education a failure.

Perhaps what C.Dytor fails to appreciate is that our state schools are not in the business of making profit. They do not charge upwards of £7k a year to educate children in a strictly middle-class environment. They are paid for by our taxes and prepare children for a variety of roles (post compulsory education), in and out of "middle-class society".

I am not opposed to private schools but I am opposed to the idea of children being given "vouchers" for private schools in the place of attending state sector establishments. It would drain the state sector of much needed funds and create an increasingly polarised, 2 tier system.

The ULT is working in a state-private partnership to provide better standards to failing British schools. They are, ostensibly, not creating new private schools but giving schools that have struggled in the past a much-needed financial boost. The ULT is not just a group of private schools but a philanthropic educational charity that can see the benefit of investing in the state sector.

If, instead of paying our taxes towards public services, we opted for a voucher system for schools (or hospitals/ dustbin men/ perhaps even police) we are rather selfishly admitting that all that matters is our own, comfortable, middle class existence. The irony of this is, that without the services paid for by taxes, the comfortable middle class existence of which I speak would rapidly fall apart.

Pay for your child's education if you can afford it, and you believe it represents a good investment, but do not deprive the state sector of the taxes that provide the money to keep improving and delivering an excellent (and in parts, improving) educational system to the majority of children in this country.

  • 7.
  • At 08:32 AM on 10 Nov 2006,
  • bossman wrote:

da skool is like a prison are u mad

  • 8.
  • At 03:15 PM on 10 Nov 2006,
  • A M wrote:

I agree with H Watson ”tens of thousands of non fee paying schools provide good education to many
Children”!

The NEWSNIGHT revelations rather point to a number of unanswered revelations:

How come Westminster, one of the wealthiest councils in the UK allowed the former North Westminster School fall into such disrepair AND dared handing it over in the state described?
This in the full knowledge of an even increased volume of temporarily accommodated pupils at the North Wharf Site! ‘Bossman’ may have a point.

How come that the duty of care for pupils, many of whom from the most deprived areas in Westminster, was so easily handed over to ULT without ever questioning the reasons for years of failure at NWCS presided over by Westminster’s Education Department? A Secondary School once celebrated as WCC flagship!

Was it not rather harebrained to expect two simultanous massive and complex school building projects
to complete on schedule without making adequate plans for extended delays as do occur with many building projects let alone the responsibility for an entire school population and staff in waiting?

How can Westminster Council, who stands to gain huge sums from the eventual sale of the North Wharf Road site be so disingenuous and not write off the residual NWCS dept and offer some financial way out of the current crisis?

A three-site school is now underway to be compacted into two sites on very limited land, both with proposed increased student numbers, less than half a mile from one another. The one alongside a busy trunk road, the other, in size totally disproportionate to its surrounding neighbourhood not far off.

Next year, with the introduction of the extended congestion zone, an influx of then an overall minimum of 4000 pupils plus staff and services within a tiny area will have to battle it out with what will by then have become the Harrow Road Congestion charge avoidance corridor.
Happy parents to send their offspring into potentially overcrowded chaos?

Meanwhile, more valuable land will have been sold by the council to make room for more luxury apartments, office blocks and undoubtedly additional shopping malls.

Please can we check our value system!

  • 9.
  • At 03:20 PM on 26 Nov 2006,
  • yana wrote:

as a student I would say education in Paddington Academy has hugely improved since last year. The only problem facing the students is the lack of proper equipment and the unorganised system that every day changes and confuses us.

  • 10.
  • At 11:46 PM on 22 Dec 2006,
  • c.i.dytor wrote:

Well. it is good to know that there are still some bleeding hearts out there---but the fact still remains:academic results, sport, music, extra-curricular etc:all are far better in the private sector than in the discredited,abandoned,second-rate state sector. This may be regrettable but it is an observable reality.Why have the luvvies of new labour abandoned the state sector.both philosophically and in terms of personal choice for their own children?Tony Blair sent his children to a one-off state school that enjoyed de-facto special status and others like Diane Abbot['real labour'] went the whole hog and embraced the private sector completely! I am not saying that it is right but denial of reality is the mark of the delusional. The private sector is excellent---why not make it available to more people?

  • 11.
  • At 11:44 AM on 28 Dec 2006,
  • Alan wrote:

How about scrapping private education, sending all children to state schools and making them compete on an equal footing. Maybe then in the future our country and institutions would be run by people who have earned the right and not by the people whose daddies have paid for the right!

  • 12.
  • At 03:13 PM on 30 Dec 2006,
  • Fiona wrote:

Bring back proper selection and streaming - that helps both pupils and teachers. It is high time that parents accepted that fact that not all kids can be academically brillant and that they cant all win X factor! It was a load of tosh to say that kids felt like failures if they did not get into a grammar - it was the parents who felt they had failed.
Failure is good - provides a great reality check

I failed and am proud of it. I was then in the top stream of the local comp and even managed to get to a top university.

  • 13.
  • At 02:17 AM on 31 Dec 2006,
  • Ray Le Couteur wrote:

I can't believe that people take seriously this state/private comparison.

When the average pupil - teacher ratio in private schools is 9:1, compared to 16:1 in state secondary schools, then OF COURSE the 'private' pupils get more individual attention and will almost inevitably get better results.

This is not a reflection of the quality of the schools, teachers or management, but simply of the money spent. Personally, I think most secondary schools do an amazing job considering their lack of funding.

No doubt when they are all 'privatised' and costing twice as much per pupil, some people will say how good the private management is compared to the state sector ...... a bit like the railways.

  • 14.
  • At 09:07 AM on 31 Dec 2006,
  • Lashen wrote:

The state of the schools in the UK, the restrictive curriculum and the bullying by pupils and teachers alike is the exact reason why so many parents now choose to home educate. Not just the "Upper" or "Middle" classes either.
My husband works as a labourer on a building site, I stay at home end ensure our four children get a decent, balanced, REAL education, not just studying for meaningless tests.
What many people realise is that Home education id not illegal as long as a child is deregistered from school correctly. Neither do they have to be monitored or tested by anyone from the local authority. there is no requirememnt to register with the local authority at this pont in time either. Just as long as the child is educated to "their age, aptitude and ability" either "in school or otherwise" and "taking account of any special needs they may have"

  • 15.
  • At 06:14 PM on 01 Jan 2007,
  • Janete wrote:

Many years ago I went to a good girls grammar school in paddington which was later joined with a poor quality local secondary to make the notorious north paddington school, predecessor to the academy. The introduction of a (poorly planned) system of comprehensives lost bright local working class kids the chance of a better future through education and the paddington academy carries this legacy. It will be a hard one to turn round. No wonder a 'modern' labour politician doesn't want to give her kid such a handicap!

  • 16.
  • At 02:04 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • Concerned Parent wrote:

I am a parent of a pupil at Paddington Academy, not by choice either.

My son has to travel from east London to attend this school, leaving before daylight because of the 8.15am start, because he was too 'bright' to attend the 2 city academies nearest to our home. Hackney Learning Trust's hare-brained entrance policy put paid to that.

The only school which gives close to a private school eduation (Latymer in Enfield) was very over subscribed and despite being one of the 500 who passed the entrance exams our postcode again was a factor in him not being selected. All of these schools are closer to our home than Paddington academy, since being there he has had his timetable changed twice, been robbed of his dinner money during a PE lesson due to a lack of security facilities and come home with a 100% excellent report for the first term. Confusion reigns.

What the governement needs to realise anad accept is that NOT ALL KIDS ARE THE DAMN SAME! If more of these schools were tailored to children of above average ability, selective, rather than discriminative towards them then we would see more of a balance in education. I cannot afford to send my son to private school so i have to make do with sub-standard buildings etc in order to get a decent education. The jury is still out on whether Paddington Acdemy will provide him with one.

  • 17.
  • At 04:14 PM on 16 Jan 2007,
  • Astounded Paddington wrote:

I have watched the progress, or lack of, of the transition of the site from North Wharf Road to the now encumbent Paddington Academy. I was able to visit the school before the summer break, noticing that the sports halls were packed floor to rafters with old junk and furniture. A departing teacher, smoking a joint, was just packing up the last of her stuff to go to their new home.

Such was the condition of the building being left to the academy, that nothing short of a bulldozer was going to make a lot of difference. The contractor assigned to doing the physical move of the school had no direction on site, nothing was boxed or labelled so there wasn't much point in turning up.

But, Good news for the Academy! A new two story modular building, giving them 480 square metres of new teaching space, was being erected with wc's attached, carpets and a reasonable heating system. £120K was being spent on this really nice, if temporary building, so it was not cheap.

The day of the Academy's tenure approached and I was given the chance to see what changes had been made.

Anything that didn't move or was not glass had been covered with a thin film of poor quality paint. The furniture and rubbish still occupied the sports halls, but the new bmodular building did look nice.

There was no network for IT. The labs were in a deplorable condition and I did not envy the people who were to occupy the place.

Then, in mid November, just two complete months since my last visit, I had to avoid a screaming horde of children who had the six security men at a loss. Who were lighting and holding fireworks before throwing them at each other in the street and were rocking the bus, that was to take them away, to such an extent that I really worried it could remain upright.

These kids were completely lawless, pure and simply a mob.

But it was the buildings I had to feel for. The brand new temporary building had been smashed to pieces. None of the heaters were left on the walls which had football sized holes bashed through into the next class room. (Lack of supervision or volition perhaps?)

The Acacemy had had to remove at their expense, all of the furniture and equipment left by NWRS and try to get some semblance of fit for purpose condition.

To find that their stay on the site was not going to be the very short stay it had been designed for was a shock that forced them to make some rapid alterations, costing far too much and, because of the lack of time, were just not good enough.

The whole scheme seems to have been ill thought through, has been done half assed and nothing like enough consideration given to pupils and staff who needed a reasonable base, at least, to start from.

From my unconnected position, I am very disturbed by the shambles that is now the Academy. God alone knows what happens when these kids move on to FE.

  • 18.
  • At 04:18 PM on 16 Jan 2007,
  • Astounded Paddington wrote:

I have watched the progress, or lack of, of the transition of the site from North Wharf Road to the now encumbent Paddington Academy. I was able to visit the school before the summer break, noticing that the sports halls were packed floor to rafters with old junk and furniture. A departing teacher, smoking a joint, was just packing up the last of her stuff to go to their new home.

Such was the condition of the building being left to the academy, that nothing short of a bulldozer was going to make a lot of difference. The contractor assigned to doing the physical move of the school had no direction on site, nothing was boxed or labelled so there wasn't much point in turning up.

But, Good news for the Academy! A new two story modular building, giving them 480 square metres of new teaching space, was being erected with wc's attached, carpets and a reasonable heating system. £120K was being spent on this really nice, if temporary building, so it was not cheap.

The day of the Academy's tenure approached and I was given the chance to see what changes had been made.

Anything that didn't move or was not glass had been covered with a thin film of poor quality paint. The furniture and rubbish still occupied the sports halls, but the new bmodular building did look nice.

There was no network for IT. The labs were in a deplorable condition and I did not envy the people who were to occupy the place.

Then, in mid November, just two complete months since my last visit, I had to avoid a screaming horde of children who had the six security men at a loss. Who were lighting and holding fireworks before throwing them at each other in the street and were rocking the bus, that was to take them away, to such an extent that I really worried it could remain upright.

These kids were completely lawless, pure and simply a mob.

But it was the buildings I had to feel for. The brand new temporary building had been smashed to pieces. None of the heaters were left on the walls which had football sized holes bashed through into the next class room. (Lack of supervision or volition perhaps?)

The Acacemy had had to remove at their expense, all of the furniture and equipment left by NWRS and try to get some semblance of fit for purpose condition.

To find that their stay on the site was not going to be the very short stay it had been designed for was a shock that forced them to make some rapid alterations, costing far too much and, because of the lack of time, were just not good enough.

The whole scheme seems to have been ill thought through, has been done half assed and nothing like enough consideration given to pupils and staff who needed a reasonable base, at least, to start from.

From my unconnected position, I am very disturbed by the shambles that is now the Academy. God alone knows what happens when these kids move on to FE.

  • 19.
  • At 08:30 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Distressed Paddington Academy Student wrote:

Iam a sixth from student at Paddington Academy and fear iam being robbed of my education,im in the upper sixth so forunately this is my last year.Last year i had four different temporary teachers for one of my subjects which i passed thankfully no credit to them that is. I passed because i could see what this so called school was turning into and chose to revise as much as possible at home and at my local library as i knew the teachers were not going to teach my anyhting relevant.One teacher who taught us had never taught A level before in this country and was assigned to teach the 'best' 18% of students who had acquired 5 GCSE's that year in order to do their a-levels. it was a DISGRACE for them to simply dump a teacher who would never have passed any teaching interview at any other school let alone to be given the role of teaching A-level student with NO EXPERIENCE IN THIS COUNTRY'S EDUCATION SYSTEM AND NEVER ACTUALLY TAUGHT HERE BEFORE IN HER LIFE i not only feel sorry for myself but every single student who dares to walk through them gates every weekday morning. At the moment there are several holes in the ceilings of some of the floors and several toilet leaks have occured resulting in DIRTY AND CONTAMINATED water to fall from the toilet through the ground and unto another floor. There have also been several 'deliberate' fire alarms going off by 'rebel' students who do not want to return to lesson from break or luchtime. These have resulted in whole school evacuations with students being told to line up for upto 30mins in the playground in this months freezing tempratures all because of the teachers' lack of supervision of all its students.

I am extremely scared of doing my A2's not because of general exam nerves but because i maybe having to repeat this year as some teachers have exactly been teaching the right syllabus to put it nicely and to not put it so nicely THESE NEW SO CALLED 'TEACHERS' ARE SO DAMN BRAINLESS THEY COULDNT GET A BABY TO PASS WIND LET ALONE 30 STUDENTS TO PASS A SUBJECT! most of them look like theyve just graduated from university rather than experienced mature and profeesional human beings who want to TEACH not simply want a generous paypacket at the end of the month!

p.s the headteacher isnt exactly the nicest human being either. I have never seen her ACTUALLY doing her job i bet she couldnt run a mile let alone a whole school.

  • 20.
  • At 06:41 PM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • vala zulfiu wrote:

i am a student at paddington academy and even though all that everyone is saying (that we might be losing a year out of our education) might be true to a certian extent, but eventhough we are not happy that we have to wait till september 2007 to start the new school we are grateful that the staff at paddington academy are doing their best to make our education their first and most important thing to worry about i think that we are learning lots more at this school rather than at paddington lower house and i would just like to thank all the staff especially Ms Goulding for giving us this fantastic opertunity.

  • 21.
  • At 04:59 PM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • 6th form student at paddington academy wrote:

Yh i must admit the education has improved but i think there is ALOT more to be done,all the year7's and yr8's are always getting rude messing around like there is no tomorrow.

And may i add it is ridicolous that school is going to start from next week by 8:20am it is difficult enough coming to school by 8:30am, it is like we are in prison or something!!

They give us detention if you are just 10 secs late which is silly really.

  • 22.
  • At 04:35 PM on 03 Feb 2007,
  • Julia YR8 Paddington academy wrote:

As a pupil at Paddington Academy, i think what has been said in the media is wrong. we are dissapointed that the school wont be finished until september 2007, but we are still grateful that they provided us with this building. without it we wouldnt be getting an education at all. the teachers have provided us with all the equipment we need, such as laptops, cameras and electronic whiteboards. we understand that noone likes the fact that we are in an old building but we have to appreciate what we have. and, we are.

  • 23.
  • At 07:55 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • paddinton academy student wrote:

well i go to paddington academy n i think its not as great as they told us it wuld be. how do dey expect us to cum in at 8.20 wen ders so much roadwork n construction all over london. wen we r late n complain dey tell us to leave earlier...earlier den 7.45 wen its still dark. imagine a little yr7 kid havin to leave dat early. n as for da head teacher, wen we rarely see her she jus stands der and does nothing, so to sum it up the academy is goin to be rubbish if they dont fix up now.

  • 24.
  • At 01:12 PM on 18 Feb 2007,
  • Scott wrote:

Why has it took until now to highlight this? I left North Westminster in 1999, and the building was in a horrible state then with holes in the walls, paint peeling off (nothing was done about it then), I can only imagine what its like 8 years later. Thing is the school never had any money for books, equipment etc let alone money to repair anything, so a lot of the blame should go to Westminster Council for that.

Reading the comments, nothing seems to have changed much, fire alarm pranks were common when I was there!!.

Clueless teachers (some might be still there), though there were some good ones.

But we started school at 8.55am (9.10 on mondays) closed early at 2.45 on wednesdays. I dont see what benefit starting at 8.20 has except to upset people.

If North Westminster had been properly funded, there would be no need for these academies so no disruption

As for the new head she should be seen as shes meant to be running the place (not very well by the sound of it) ill give her 2 years...

  • 25.
  • At 01:11 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • D.C wrote:

I couldn’t agree more with the observation made by the Paddington academy student. Most of the teaching staff are in their midd twenties, with next to nothing experience. I myself am a pupil currently studying at Paddington academy and I think it’s more of a guinea pig test than a learning institution. I cannot emphasize in words the vast unorganisation, lawlessness and deteriorating state of the current building. I cannot understand how one of the richest countries in the world can offer such a low standard in education such as the one in Paddington academy. Furthermore the responses of the Paddington academy students have been varied. This variation is caused in my opinion due to the fact that in some parts of the school, students are entitled to electronic white boards and in other s I wouldn’t be surprised to a see a black board and chalk. The academy school at best is a shambles. I regret having to take a negative attitude but unfortunately it is the correct one. I am anticipating my test results, and also how well the academy does. As far as my anticipation for the academies overall performance I’m not very optimistic and I think it is absolutely fair and unexaggerated when I say that the overall test results will be far worse than the ones of the predecessors that has been criticized and rubbished to a massive extent. Who will take responsibility if results are low?

  • 26.
  • At 07:27 PM on 15 Mar 2007,
  • student wrote:

the school's just getting worser and worser

  • 27.
  • At 11:29 AM on 16 Mar 2007,
  • Fatal wrote:

i have read what some of the students have wrote i jus hope the school gets better when i start next year

  • 28.
  • At 01:00 PM on 16 Mar 2007,
  • johntalbot wrote:

NO.27 "worser and worser" I'm afraid not . Incorrect use of language i.e. should read ....worse and worse! This is basic english and should be alreadylearnt/understood by this pupil ( not student) ..this is just blairspeak and worthless in my view.

  • 29.
  • At 11:51 PM on 18 Mar 2007,
  • anon wrote:

It sounds like a very vicious attack in the playground. It sounds like the pupils at Paddington are being experimented on.
Who the hell r the ULT that they can put in place Goulding when she is such an inexperience head?
And why r some pupils supporting what is going on?
It must be maddness and I think the government r to blame. NO MORE ACADEMIES!!!

  • 30.
  • At 04:39 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • daniel proctor wrote:

i just wanted to say thanks for visiting us u were the most spectacular journalist ever to talk to the school and tell the world wat the school is realy like

thanxs
p.s: please come back wen the building is done and not one of the teachers could stop saying how nice u r and how beautiful u r so bye

by daniel proctor year7 at paddington academy

  • 31.
  • At 03:54 PM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • ex teacher at NWCS wrote:

I am saddened that there is a suggestion that the teachers of North Westminster Community School left the buildings in North Wharf Road in an unacceptable state. Over the last year, particularly, of NWCS our working lives were very badly effected by the Academies.

The reason that there were skips full of "rubbish" was that we were ordered to throw out anything which wasn't in perfect condition. It broke my heart to see all the equipment and materials which had to be discarded. I even tried to see whether some could be shipped off to less fortunate countries.

It is true that many areas of the school needed a face lift but there is little recognition of the work done by staff and those doing community service in order to make the outlook more attractive. The plants in pots were planted by NWCS students and staff. The benches were painted by NWCS staff and students. Other areas were also improved and, on the very last day, there was no graffiti.

Why were the papers allowed to continue to describe NWCS as a "failing" school - it wasn't.

Why was there no report of the stabbing which took place in the playground at Paddington Academy.

Why was the choice of Academy allowed to dictate the composition of tutor groups in the last year of NWCS, leading to almost weekly changes of timetable for some students.

In the end, the exam results will probably show an improvement for 3 reasons: the closure of NWCS caused havoc to staff and students; many staff left because they had no wish to work for an Academy; students who don't fit will be got rid of to other schools. The excuse of a "challenging intake" and inadequate buildings should set of alarm bells.

  • 32.
  • At 10:28 PM on 22 Apr 2007,
  • Scott G wrote:

Im glad I finished this school in 1999 thats all I can say, what a shambles! It was fairly organised back then.

Couldnt agree more with the post above, and trust me I know it would be the truth as im sure I know the teacher who wrote it is (my ex form tutor at MLH who I hope is well!)

People should not forget that Paddington Academy is only half of what was NWCS. The "Westminster Academy" is the other bit, they are not exactly in the best building either (they are in the old Marylebone Lower House of NWCS)either they have better management or are very good at concealment, maybe the BBC should do a follow up!!

  • 33.
  • At 04:03 PM on 07 May 2007,
  • ameer YeAr 007 wrote:

people say the learnin has improved well thats a lie everyday my class learns nothing specialy in maths . they discribed it to be amazing (the new building) well they tried their best on the north warf one and that looks like a council flat . the year 7 block is not bad but the rest is a disaster!!! . MISS Goulding needs to make a move a big one specialy for yr 9,10,11 the 6 formers are ok but the others are apauling . i hope the goverment support us and i disagree with daniel procta

the new building is JUST TALKK! *_*

  • 34.
  • At 03:34 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • ex teacher wrote:

Thanks Scott - of course, you're right but I don't know how!

  • 35.
  • At 10:29 AM on 15 Jun 2007,
  • Jim Bob wrote:

This School is amazing!!
I attend this school and since we got moved to it. The teachers and the students have improved- i wish!
Anyway, PA SUCKS!!!!1

  • 36.
  • At 12:46 PM on 21 Jun 2007,
  • alan branche wrote:

the school is not good at the moment it needs to have longer breaks and longer lunches not short and school needs to finish earlier. then the school is going to be the best school in the universe believe me or not if the students aren't happy about the school how would it be a good school. the students change the school if you listen to them the school will change.

  • 37.
  • At 09:46 PM on 23 Jun 2007,
  • Paddingtonian wrote:

I would like to take issue with the comments made by Janete in respect of the history of education in Paddington.First of all the school which was formed in 1972 from the amalgamation of North Paddington School and Paddington and Maida Vale High School for Girls was Paddington School and not North Paddington School as mentioned.Furthermore North Paddington School had a very good reputation and the pupils took a great pride in the school and still meet at school reunions. In addition, some time before its closure the school received a visit from H.M. The Queen, testimony to the high regard in which the school was held.

  • 38.
  • At 09:01 AM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • sazza wrote:

paddington academy is rubbish and they need to fix up

  • 39.
  • At 04:15 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • daniel wrote:

Let's hope that the new academy can reach the parts that the old school could not. NWCSchool in the mid 90's became a depressing, paint peeled sink school. Many key staff left and a revolving door of overseas OE teachers filled the staff roster. Pupils became disaffected and out of control. SEN was classroom based and an increasing number of students arrived from troubled overseas countries as asylum seekers. Worse still was the pernicious rise of Islamists within the student body.

Staffside was equally disfunctional. I recently read that an NUT North Westminster staff member bemoaned the intrusion of "Christian capitalism into the citadel of the state comprehensive sector." when addressing the issue of the Paddington academies at an annual conference.

The assumption here is that the former NWCS was offering a high value education. This is something that many pupils and former teachers would take issue with.

The capacity for denial and self deception is widespread in education. It was always the "nasty conservative Council" that was blamed and not the shortcomings of the curriculum offer or rigor of teaching staff.

Let's remember that any new initiative, including this new Academy,is worth talking up. Less sloppy left wing groupthink and in its place pride, boundaries and aspiration.

  • 40.
  • At 12:03 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Scott G wrote:

I agree with most of your post Daniel, I obviuosly dont know your connection to the school but it was chronically underfunded for years, that itself would play a big part in the sinking of the school. If the place looks like a dump (undecorated for years) has 2nd rate facilities , equipment, poor teachers etc people will naturally behave accordingly.

That in my opinion is why a good deal of the blame should go to Westminster city council for the failures, thats not to say there was a problem with teachers, there definetly was,towards the end of my time a lot of experienced teachers who had been there since perhaps the creation of the school left in a short space of time. This hit the school very hard particularly the retirement of the head Michael Marland.
Any head following on from him would have a very hard job imposing themselves as it was his school for a very long time with his structures instilled in the place.

Its a shame NWCS was killed of in the manner it was, with the right leadership, money and commitment it might have been possible to turn things around.

  • 41.
  • At 05:36 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • mandy wrote:

school is rubbish

  • 42.
  • At 11:33 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

I remember a school where Embassy Staff of 3 countries sent their kids. I remember a school where all my friends went to University, I remember a school where the teachers gave a crap. I remember a school where they went out of their way to help. I remember a school where one of our Governors was the late Lord Quentin Hogg, QC.This school was Rutherford School, Penfold St, the date? Around the late 70's. Nice one Labour, Nice one Westminster Council for allowing this to happen.

  • 43.
  • At 10:03 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Sixth Form Student N****R wrote:

ULT claim to have done so much repairs to the North Wharf Upper School Building and that they were able to deliver a full curicullum to students. I personally disagree on this for a number of reasons and I believe that the "1 year lost of education" theory strongly applies, First of all, I would like to touch on a simple aspect which was ignored for some reason by staff and year heads that seriously, from many different angles made it impossible for students to learn, the timetable, where on earth would you have a timetable like the one we've had, which was one day = one subject... Baisically, Monday= All maths, Tuesday= All ICT and so on.. I'd like to say that it is completely impossible to be able to concentrate all day on the same subject, I mean ofcourse you'll be Ok first and second hour, but what about the rest of the day doin the same thing, students were just falling asleep, from a different point of view, if you were unable to attend school for some reason, you would miss a whole lot of what has been taught that day whereas if it was a normal reasonable timetable, you can always check and catch up with a friend/teacher however when its like this, its impossible.

I'll leave the rest of the problems faced for you to imagine when having such a timetable, and not forgetting, ICT for a whole day?, according to "health & safety", its not recommended to sit infront of a computer for more than 2 hours without a break, however according to "Paddington Academy" and their "high teachnology facilities" its OK for the student to sit infront of the computer and STUDY/CONCENTRATE for a whole day and such short breakes, even if there was breaks, it will bring boredom to students and will depress them of the subject to be studying it for a whole day...

Some, not all, of the teachers were a disgrace, Physics, "The hardest AS/A2 Level" Three months later of begining the year, the real physics teacher (Mr Salmani) who was not good anyway decided to take a vacation and sleep at home, so who do we have to teach us "Physics" instead of him, A University Student (Mr Szabo) who was working as a Technician while Mr Salmani was in control, Firstly, He was nowhere near capable of teaching AS students, lets not take the "Teaching" degree into account, he did not even have his Physics degree, He is not experienced and last but not least, He does not speak English properly.

For Mechanics, (M1), We had Mr Thompson, who was actually quite well in Mechanics, however he was no where near well in being bothered to actually teach, you would have to call him about 10-15 times for him coming to you, at the begining of the lesson he would do 1 or 2 examples on the board and then he'l sit on his desk, drink tea and tells us about his plan to go and work in Dubai which is why 99.9% of the Mechanics students got the beautiful grade "U"(Unclassified).

Generally speaking, the building itself was not suitable at all to be a school, where people can study and learn, and what was said in the media was 100% true no doubt.
It was really 1 year lost of education for many, however there were those who were capable of depending on themselves but lets not forget the main purpose for School and Teachers, If one student did pass with colourful grades, it does not mean the teaching in that school has been proven. ;)

I'm sure there were many other problems faced by students however, what i said here, is what i personally went through.

Yours Faithfully,

A victim of "Upper Skool"
;)

  • 44.
  • At 03:08 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • anon wrote:

i was a student at the school which paddington academy has now replaced: north westminster community school. i must admit that whilst i was attending NWCS my grades took a turn for the worse. however this is not purely down to the teaching nor is it the fault of my fellow students. although some of the students made it extremely difficult to concentrate during lesson and for the teachers to teach, the reason they remained at the school was because the school was not permitted to get rid of them. if they had been, they would have done so. despite the disturbances which occured in and out of lessons, the teachers consistly helped those who genuinly wanted and allowed themselves to be helped.
the grades a student acheives, whether it is at a private or public school, is dependent on each individual student. i personally know many students who managed to received As and A*s for GCSEs despite the fact that they were 'victims' of upper school.
the problem is not the institution, it is within the students who need to motivated and suported.
north westminster may not have appeared no. 1 on league tables but it definitely taught me alot. the culture the school harboured is very rare and will be missed by many i am sure.

  • 45.
  • At 12:54 AM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Sixth Form Student N****R wrote:

A kind reply to "anon" to bring to her attention that if she reads my article once again she will notice that I am not talking about NWCS, I am talking about the new formed Paddington Academy. ;)

However, I still have a reply, so many students that you know have achieved A*'s and A's, Well according to statistics less than 25% of NWCS's population achieved grades 5 A*-C.

I mean ofcourse I do agree with you that there are "some" who have been successful at NWCS but this wasnt due to teachers, those who did achieve the A*'s and A's were motivated into education as a result of many factors such as families or friends etc, they knew what to study, how and where.

NWCS did not provide the other 75% of the students with this advice and help which is why they have not managed to achieve the basic standard 5 A*-C.

So this is why I am saying NWCS were not doing their job properly, If a bunch of people pass, it does not mean that the school has proven its goal.

Let me give you an example, lets say theres a school that achieved 85% of its students gaining 5 A*-C, now you cannot say the school sucks, you cant put the school down because only 15% didnt achieve well whereas you can if it was 75% that didnt ;).

N

  • 46.
  • At 01:01 AM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Sixth Form Student N*****R wrote:

A kind reply to "anon" to bring to his/her attention that if he/she reads my article once again he/she will notice that I am not talking about NWCS, I am talking about the new formed Paddington Academy. ;)

However, I still have a reply because I have attended NWCS too :D, so many students that you know have achieved A*'s and A's, Well according to statistics less than 25% of NWCS's population achieved grades 5 A*-C.

I mean ofcourse I do agree with you that there are "some" who have been successful at NWCS but this wasnt due to teachers, those who did achieve the A*'s and A's were motivated into education as a result of many factors such as families or friends etc, they knew what to study, how and where.

NWCS did not provide the other 75% of the students with this advice and help which is why they have not managed to achieve the basic standard 5 A*-C.

So this is why I am saying NWCS were not doing their job properly, If a bunch of people pass, it does not mean that the school has proven its goal.

Let me give you an example, lets say theres a school that achieved 85% of its students gaining 5 A*-C, now you cannot say the school sucks, you cant put the school down because only 15% didnt achieve well whereas you can if it was 75% that didnt ;).

N

  • 47.
  • At 01:03 AM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Sixth Form Student N*****R wrote:

A kind reply to "anon" to bring to his/her attention that if he/she reads my article once again he/she will notice that I am not talking about NWCS, I am talking about the new formed Paddington Academy. ;)

However, I still have a reply because I have attended NWCS too :D, so many students that you know have achieved A*'s and A's, Well according to statistics less than 25% of NWCS's population achieved grades 5 A*-C.

I mean ofcourse I do agree with you that there are "some" who have been successful at NWCS but this wasnt due to teachers, those who did achieve the A*'s and A's were motivated into education as a result of many factors such as families or friends etc, they knew what to study, how and where.

NWCS did not provide the other 75% of the students with this advice and help which is why they have not managed to achieve the basic standard 5 A*-C.

So this is why I am saying NWCS were not doing their job properly, If a bunch of people pass, it does not mean that the school has proven its goal.

Let me give you an example, lets say theres a school that achieved 85% of its students gaining 5 A*-C, now you cannot say the school sucks, you cant put the school down because only 15% didnt achieve well whereas you can if it was 75% that didnt ;).

N

  • 48.
  • At 07:10 PM on 20 Mar 2008,
  • AK wrote:

I was at NWCS from 84-91. in '99 in my class of 35 students only 3 got over a 'C' in their GCSE Maths!

And the best A-level result in '91 was ABC. In my final year of A-Level Art we didn't even have a teacher!

I am fortunate that I managed to get into a good University on interview not grades.

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