The number of pupils who played truant from Bristol secondary schools last year was almost double the national average. And it has been claimed that 2006-07 could go down as the worst ever school year on record for secondaries in the city, following the release of new figures.
Says the Evening Cancer heralding yet another expensive disaster for Bristol City Council’s education department. Since 2005 – after a School Attendance Select Committee had spent over a year meeting together to suggest ways to improve truancy rates – the city council has spent a fortune establishing an Attendance Change Team and launching various initiatives to improve school attendance.
This has included expenditure on the usual overpriced must-have IT software for techno-fix purposes; expenditure on a very well paid and clearly underperforming Attendance Initiatives Officer; vast sums paid out on a total failure of a marketing campaign – Every Day Counts and even more money forked out for various glossy leaflets to give to parents, kids and teachers on regular basis.
And what do our glorious education leaders have to say about their latest failure? Well in the case of our £140k a year education director – who is directly responsible for this – sweet fuck all. As usual, when there’s bad news, Heather is simply nowhere to be seen or heard.
Meanwhile Labour’s education boss Derek Pickup is left mouthing one of the daftest excuses of all time: “It’s not that the figures are actually rising, the reason for any increase is because we are using more robust systems to measure absence,” he bleats.
Is Pickup really claiming there’s a more robust method of measuring absence than the good old-fashioned class register? In which case what is it exactly? Or is he claiming that the city council has only just introduced class registers? I think we should be told.
The city’s official spokeswoman on education Kate Hartas came out with an entirely different excuse to Pickup’s – nothing like consistency of message is there? She claimed the figures could not be compared to last year’s because they only covered part of the year and had not been fully checked!
Jesus. They really think we’re stupid don’t they? Do they really think we believe this bollocks? Why can’t they just face up to the issues, admit there’s a problem and say how they’re gonna deal with it rather than come out with these unbelievably pisspoor PR excuses every time?
Perhaps they should start by ending the blame free culture in the education department and identifying the people who have failed to deliver on the truancy issue over the last few years and ensuring some heads roll?
So who’s the well-paid senior council officer responsible for truancy then?
That’d be Attendance and Behaviour Consultant right?
Uh huh . . .
Who’s that then?
Er, Esther Pickup-Keller, wife of Labour education supremo Derek Pickup!