Proving Mr Gove Wrong; Education Secretary Michael Gove Sparked Fury When He Singled out Schools in East Durham for Criticism. Journal Reporter KATIE DAVIES Tests His Views

The Journal (Newcastle, England), May 8, 2013 | Go to article overview

Proving Mr Gove Wrong; Education Secretary Michael Gove Sparked Fury When He Singled out Schools in East Durham for Criticism. Journal Reporter KATIE DAVIES Tests His Views


Byline: KATIE DAVIES

DESPITE leaving Wellfield Comprehensive School nearly 10 years ago I still hold a huge amount of loyalty to the place.

Not only did I leave with a handful of good grades but also with the life experience and grounding I needed for my career. Five years at the school made me street-wise and helped me to prepare myself for some of life's challenges.

And so when I heard that Wellfield was one of the schools that Michael Gove had personally attacked - saying that in schools in East Durham you could "sense the smell of defeatism" - I felt a sense of hurt that went beyond political point-scoring.

Those comments, made during a speech in London at the launch of a book on GCSE under-performance, were met with fury in the North East.

Critics said the Education Secretary's words were part of his ideologically-led project which has also seen Mr Gove call for a back-to-basics approach to the school curriculum that are opposed by many teachers and academics.

Others pointed out that Mr Gove had not actually been to any of the schools he singled out for criticism and should have visited them before making such a specific attack.

To see whether or not he was right, The Journal decided to do what the Education Secretary had not, and as a former pupil of one of those schools singled out, I found myself back at Wellfield Community School - now a specialist maths and computing college - for the first time in a decade. On my return I immediately felt at home when I was greeted by staff and pupils in the reception area.

The school, in Wingate, County Durham, is based in a deprived area of the country where the behaviour is sometimes challenging. Government figures show that 40% of pupils at Wellfield are officially classed as "disadvantaged", a relatively high number. Over the years people's perceptions of Wellfield have been poor and in 2007 the school was placed by Ofsted in category 4, or unsatisfactory, for its behaviour and attendance. However during my visit I was quick to learn how things have changed dramatically in recent years.

The children show an awful lot of respect for the staff and are focused on doing well. Part of that change has come from headteacher Linda Rodham who was appointed in 2012, taking over the reins of the school from Jennifer Elliott. She was previously head at Moorside Community College, in Consett, County Durham, which has outstanding results and she is now keen to replicate its success at Wellfield. Since her appointment, staff, students and the wider community recognise the improvements she has made. Last year, 51% of pupils at the school got five or more good GCSEs including English and maths - the main yardstick all schools are judged by. While this is below the national average of 59%, it is a big improvement on 2009 (when only 36% got the grades), and Wellfield is closing the gap on the national average. Government figures also show that 62% make the expected progress in English and 54% in maths. She tells me she is keen to change people's misconceptions of the school and that Wellfield is on its way to becoming a very good school. Mrs Rodham has taken on the role of headteacher during exciting times for the school as it is undergoing a PS7.5m transformation under the Building Schools for the Future programme, with work expected to be finished by June next year. She said: "Wellfield is going to be very shortly a very good school and that's what all the staff and students are working towards at the minute. "We have some very ambitious staff and students here and we are going to make sure that Wellfield and that the community around Wellfield are very proud of the school. "What we want is Wellfield to be a good school for the community. I don't believe that children should have to travel out of the area to go to a good school and Wellfield is near to that at the minute. "We are determined that this school will be outstanding. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Proving Mr Gove Wrong; Education Secretary Michael Gove Sparked Fury When He Singled out Schools in East Durham for Criticism. Journal Reporter KATIE DAVIES Tests His Views
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.