Official: Isle of Wight council failed in its Statutory Duties in education

Official Hampshire CC report exposes catalogue of failures in education by the Isle of Wight council going back years, leaving education in a state that is ‘full of danger’.

county hall

A report, dated October 2013, heading to the Cabinet in early January exposes the long-term failings of the Isle of Wight council in relation to the Island’s education system.

The paper, prepared by the Hampshire’s Director of Children’s Services, John Coughlan, is hugely critical of the Isle of Wight council’s part in the disastrous educational standards on the Island saying that “it failed in a number of statutory duties vis a vis schools” which were “damaging in their potential consequences”.

Setting the scene
The report starts by outlining the current situation,

The most recent figures from Ofsted, as of June 2013, show that the island has half the proportion of outstanding schools as in England as a whole and five times the proportion of schools that are inadequate.
(Our emphasis)

It goes on to say,

Despite some improvement in 2013, the quality of the island’s schools taken together lags a long way behind the standard achieved in most of the rest of the country. A major and concerted effort is needed to bring educational outcomes to, and beyond, the national average.
(Our emphasis)

The council’s failings
The report sets out some of the reasons why the failings occurred.

  • The Authority took neither rapid nor decisive action in relation to poorly performing schools.
  • Its use of data and information was so poor that it had no accurate sense of which schools were performing poorly, or well, and in what ways.
  • It failed to develop robust school improvement strategies, leaving itself, and others, without direction and leaving schools broadly to their own devices.
  • This lack of focus for the work of the whole system allowed those without authority to fill the space, putting forward solutions and schemes that frequently lacked coherence and aimed at different goals.
  • Rather than seeking to lead schools forward towards educational excellence on behalf of the island’s community the Authority used schools’ growing self management, indeed autonomy, as a chance to cut them adrift.

The Island’s schools ‘felt abandoned’
The report goes on to add that the council gave no support for headteachers or governors and staff were left to ‘fill the void’.

It reduced its capacity to such an extent that it was no longer possible to offer leadership, challenge, support and intervention where that was necessary and although the few staff left worked very hard to fill the void, there is little evidence of concerted action by the Authority, across the island, to tackle problems common to a number of schools, little evidence of the kind of school to school collaboration that leads to higher standards and scant evidence that the Authority involved the school community often enough in the decisions it took.

Neither headteachers nor governors were properly supported.

In short, many of the island’s schools felt abandoned. Some primary headteachers, in particular, were deflected from their work in overseeing teaching and learning because they had to spend their time procuring support services, only tangentially related to their core purpose, with little guidance from the Authority.

Reorganisation not solely responsible
Although the roll-out of the former Conservative-led council’s school reorganisation, spearheaded by David Pugh, Alan Wells and Steve Beynon, clearly played at part in the current failings, John Coughlan believes it’s not solely responsible for the position Island education is in at the moment.

The report highlights some of the other issues,

  • There are more deep-seated reasons around culture, beliefs, expectations and insularity that are at play.
  • The system has been heavily self-referential with insufficient regard paid to what happens across the country or in the areas of statistical neighbours.
  • It has seemed enough for a school to consider itself the best in its area and scant attention has been given to the fact that across the country the school might well be closer to the bottom than the top.
  • There are serious issues around school leadership and the quality of teaching – and there is clearly a relationship between the two.

The report reveals a plan to drive up standards in education across the Island, with the following headline aspirations.

  • The percentage of children attaining a good level of development in the early years will be two points above the national average by September 2016.
  • Performance at the end of Key Stage 2 at level 4 for reading, writing and mathematics, taken together will be two percentage points above the national average by September 2016.
  • Performance at the end of Key Stage 2 for level 5 for reading, writing and mathematics taken together will be 1 percentage point above the national average by September 2016.
  • Performance at the end of Key Stage 4, 5A*-C GCSE including English and maths, will be at the national average by September 2016.
  • The gap between days lost in absence on the island and nationally, and the incidence of persistent absence, will be halved by September 2015 and removed altogether by September 2016.

As well as these aspirations, a strategy of how this will be achieved is laid out in the report. For full details see the draft report embedded below.

Press release about new panel
Shortly after these papers were released yesterday (Monday) a press release was issued by council about a new Schools and Educational Attainment Scrutiny and Support Panel being set up.

Rather strangely, there is no mention of the damning report by John Coughlan.

Some may be left wondering how this balances with the openness and transparency promised by the new Independent-led administration.

Image: simon Haytack under CC BY 2.0

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. “Neither headteachers nor governors were properly supported.”

    “There are serious issues around school leadership and the quality of teaching – and there is clearly a relationship between the two.”

    Says it all – if the management doesnt know what they are doing, the staff cant know either. Make decisions, stick to them if they work, and inform staff about them in advance and in such a way that the staff dont feel management are ripping them apart. Headteachers should be able to walk into a classroom and give constructive comments for improvement without needing a clipboard. They should be able to have a laugh with staff and students whilst staff and students also know who the boss is.

    As for the council, just because Pugh set up academies and washed his hands of education doesnt mean the current administration cant change that rapidly. Transparency should refer not only to things the current lot do, but also to things that are still failing from the previous lot – this would have been better published in October alongside a document laying out the IOW councils response – I wonder if thats why they waited to publish?

  2. Robert Jones

    24.Dec.2013 10:55am

    Ah yes; this is the system which the Tory party was just recently assuring us would soon be showing the benefits of their wise supervision over the last few years. Impressive.

    The report does make the point that the problems in island education go back beyond the last administration, as do most problems on the island. I haven’t the least doubt that’s true – it’s no excuse, but it’s true.

    Can’t help wondering then if the Isle of Wight being a county in its own right was quite the good idea so many of us thought it at the time (eg, in 1974, the time of the Redcliffe-Maude Report); whether the old fear of “being ruled by Hampshire” wouldn’t have been a lot better for us in the end than cherishing a degree of independence.

    A man for whom I had a great deal of respect, the late Councillor Sinclair Glossop, who represented Osborne Ward on the County Council for many years, did express the cautious view that we might one day regret county status – a number of points from the report, eg the parochialism, the failure to compare our schools with the best on the mainland, suggest that he might have been right.

    I’m no authority on education, other than having been through the island’s primary and secondary schools 45 plus years ago, which hardly counts as recent. But I have had far more recent experience of the council’s children’s and social services – how we’ve avoided really major scandals in either is frankly beyond me; just luck, I think.

    We’ve had to admit we’re not up to providing the services of a principal authority: how long can it be before we admit that this makes it inappropriate for us to be a unitary authority in our own right? I wouldn’t welcome this, for sentimental and local-patriotic reasons, but if children really do come first – maybe the time has come to lay pride aside.

  3. Perhaps it is not surprising that the Conservative dominated Hants County Council places no blame on the “Academy” system per se for any of the Island’s educational disaster.

    • Robert Jones

      24.Dec.2013 11:02am

      Doesn’t come as a massive surprise, no… Of course, the failure on the island goes way beyond this Academy nonsense, but it’s been foisted on to a system which was already dysfunctional – in all the circumstances, that’s likely to have made it worse.

  4. Robert Jones

    24.Dec.2013 10:59am

    Good article, by the way – particularly the question about why it took so long to publish this report, and why it’s being unveiled just before Christmas….

  5. It is unsurprising really because IOW councils of all shades for decades have displayed a “day come day go”, half-soaked attitude to most Island matters.

    For evidence you only have to read the “Looking Back” section of the County Press. Read about various schemes made in the 1960’s through to the 1980’s. Much is proposed but nothing ever happens. A new this, that or whatever will be built which is going to do X,Y and Z. Never materialises. Look at Harcourt Sands as a prime example. It’s going to be this or that. Over 12 year’s later and nothing, it’s still an eyesore. Then we had Ryde as the Island’s gateway. Another load of bunkum. The Council was going to upgrade the recreation ground in Simeon Street. New changing rooms, goals, blah blah. Nothing.

    Is it hardly surprising then that much hot air and paper is generated on how the Island’s schools are going to be the best thing since sliced bread and it comes to this. as far as Island Councils and efficiency are concerned the words p**s up and brewery spring to mind.

    • peaceful_life

      24.Dec.2013 12:27pm

      You can console yourself with the knowledge that it’s the same the nation over.

      • No it’s not (as bad as this). The isle of wight is the bottom of the league tables, that does not mean it is the same the country over. Many councils make sure the education service they provide is better than this!!!!!!!!

        • peaceful_life

          24.Dec.2013 9:51pm

          Hi, Trevor.

          So, on the whole, all things considered, you’re happy with the national education system?

          • Robert Jones

            25.Dec.2013 1:42pm

            It’s a little hard to tell how you’ve concluded that from his comment; the point is that the Isle of Wight’s education service is amongst the worst in the country – this doesn’t mean or imply that the standard in the rest of the country is stratospherically high: just that, poor though it may be, we’re worse.

  6. Island Monkey

    24.Dec.2013 2:12pm

    Well done David and Steve, will you add this to your CV now, or wait until after Christmas? You must both be really proud.

    Steve, any chance now of your giving us some of the money we paid you back?

  7. Dizenchanted

    24.Dec.2013 4:33pm

    Anyone else notice that this report was complete in October? When do the council leave it to be release? In the few days before Christmas when they hope not one will see it.

    I was all for the Indie when they got elected. I believed what they said. I had high hopes that they were going to do things differently at county hall, but what do we see? The same old games the Tories used to play with their manipulation of the press.

  8. There’s no manipulation, Diz.
    This report is coming to Cabinet in January. That’s why it’s just been published.

    • Man in Black

      24.Dec.2013 6:32pm

      The report is dated October, so why didn’t it appear at the November or December cabinet meetings? I don’t remember them being particularly heavy agendas.

      You have to admit that releasing this just before the Christmas break stinks of the practices of the old regime.

      What a shame that ‘Holiday Hijack’ is alive and kicking!

      • As the report doesn’t reflect on the current administration, why on earth would we want to bury it?

        • Let not forget that the Islands education standards were abysmal before the Tories got into power in 2005. Many of the current batch of Independents (Shirley Smart, Ian Stephens etc) were actually in office before 2005 and did nothing to address the appaling standards. Perhaps that why they would not want this report to be published to widely. The report clearly blames the Heads and teachers as well for ‘Coasting’

      • The date is October but the report might have had to be cleared by Ofsted first which would explain the delay.

        Although the report is damning and rightly so for once it is at least accompanied by an explanation of what someone is going to do about it!

        I know plenty of people who work in schools who have grown in confidence this term because of the support they are now receiving. Unfortunately I doubt there will ever be a proper inquiry in to what the previous administration did to our kids but in a way it isn’t needed. We all know they were let down big time! Let’s all support our schools as much as they can now they have the support and are free to move forwards. God bless and merry xmas

  9. peaceful_life

    25.Dec.2013 3:28pm

    Hi, Robert, thanks for the comment.

    In truth, I wasn’t concluding anything from, Trevor’s, comment, I’m pushing the boundary of premise within context.

    Firstly let me make it completely clear that I in no way condone the actions of previous administrators charged with reasonable responsibility of educational substance on the island, indeed….the actions were/are reprehensible and will leave (if not remedied) a legacy of cultural vandalism.

    I comprehend that people are upset by criticisms leveled at ‘standards’ imposed by ‘bodies’ when those criticisms are implied as condemning, it initiates anger and hurt because the subject is emotive to us and we feel shamed at the notion of letting our children down and rightly we should feel concerned, but what is it we’re concerned about when we’re only scrutinising the compartmentalised mechanisms of the system and what it deems to be credible, are we not missing the entire point by not measuring the content of abstract ‘in’ to the real world result of the ‘out’?

    Let us not delude ourselves any longer, take a look around at the true state of things and wonder to ourselves how things have gotten and are getting this bad, how we’re going to fix it and how we’re going to do that, then take a look at the curriculum and ask ourselves… there anything there that matches up to provide the cognitive tools to enable practical action for an entire generation to remedy things for those that came before them, themselves and those to come, if the conclusion is no, then I ask us……just what is it we’re measuring in terms of standard in the first place?……can you be the top or bottom of pointless?


    • Robert Jones

      25.Dec.2013 4:42pm

      You could take the view, and I often did when at school, that all standards of education are largely irrelevant to the world beyond school or university, and that is more likely to be the case today when the problems of the world are so deep-seated. In other words, the content of the curriculum has always been contentious, and probably more than somewhat irrelevant.

      But then, the old public schools taught Latin, Greek, and not much else, which were marginally relevant to a career in the Church of England but to very little else (other than repeating the process for the next generation of hapless students). The point was supposed to be, and to some extent still is, that learning was valuable for its own sake in that it caused one to study … so that then as now, what one learns out of school is likely to be more valuable than much of what one learns within it.

      Our schools on the island are failing even by that measure, by comparison with others further afield. So that even if one accepts the view that the curriculum is poorly matched, or not matched at all, to the actual demands of the day – and I’m not sure I’m in any position to conclude that – our schools are still inadequate.

      You have a broader point about the quality and purpose of education in general, but I’m not sure that this is relevant to our relative failure; we don’t even seem to be good at imparting those cognitive skills to which you refer.

      • peaceful_life

        25.Dec.2013 5:28pm

        I see the historical lineage and for all it’s fluctuations it’s predominantly been one on a trajectory of growth, so there’s been room to manoeuvre.

        But what when growth is no longer possible, how relative do the teachings need to mirror real world issues then?

  10. phil jordan

    25.Dec.2013 5:06pm

    I am continually and impressively minded to watch and listen to the young people who choose to appear on University Challenge….. the depth and understanding, not to mention knowledge, of certain subjects is astounding…
    I often wonder where these young people come from….

    They do not appear to conform to general ideas of education….and yet, perhaps, they are products of it…

    Measuring eduction is just measuring… examples of education are far more impressive.

  11. peaceful_life

    25.Dec.2013 5:22pm

    So the content of the overall cultural narrative provided and instilled by education matter not, provided that we can marvel at a select few pontificating on abstract subjects rooted in duality and leaving us with a situation whereby some of the kids in the audience are eating from foodbanks whilst captured in awe at the intellectual gymnastics of the head boy and girl?

    Are you content with that as an example, Phil?

  12. phil jordan

    25.Dec.2013 6:59pm


    Since that seeks to aggregate conflicting, yet interdependent, examples of how the entire system works.
    The fact that, in your example, some people in the audience *might* be using foodbanks ‘seems’ irrelevant in a direct assessment of educational attainment and my comments generally.

    That poverty exists is completely accepted. (…and the effect that has on educational opportunity)

    That some people achieve *intellectual* significance which, you seem to describe as “abstract subjects” (I’m not sure I can agree with that summary)is, actually, some sort of factuality…but only if you accept the breadth and understanding of those challenged to demonstrate answers to specific questions.
    We have no insight to the broader understanding of those same people who seem to excel in certain aspects of the world they live in.

    However you measure this idea, you cannot ignore the fact that those young people who attain such education (whatever that means…) are products of the system we have.
    Head boys and head girls at University….?

    I’m not suggesting for one second this is a measure of educational aspirations on the Island…perhaps it is…. perhaps it isn’t… yet, these young people exist.

    Perhaps we could dissect the general content of the University Challenge *questions* to see if they correspond with your comments as to “abstract subjects” or not…?

    • Don’t let me interrupt this interesting dialogue. I just want to say that those “who seem to excel in certain aspects” in University Challenge don’t necessarily tell us much about Education. In our areas of expertise we can all sound pretty knowledgeable to others outside it, and could do it on TV as long as we had the self-confidence and wish to do so. Also, I expect the specialist questions are geared to the current curricula in the unis: when it comes to ‘general knowledge’ questions I am often very surprised at the students’ ignorance.

      Perhaps a really useful education that loved and looked after the world, its peoples and its interconnections, wouldn’t result at age 21 with performing seals on TV!

      • phil jordan

        25.Dec.2013 11:46pm


        …but those young people have been educated by our system….

        The premise is, of course, that *those* young people are already educated in these matters, access wider understandings outside of educational constraints or are just exceptionally competent…!
        We seem to keep asking specific educational pre-requisites that are by definition exclusively contained to be worldy wise and all encompassing. I happen to think that is not reasonable or, indeed, part of a broader university education. (for the most part…)

        • It’s depressing, Phil, if you think it’s a dead loss – “not reasonable”! – to include “all encompassing… wider understandings” in schooling or at uni. I would have thought it’s precisely this that youngsters we admire for their thinking will have largely gained through their “worldly wise” formal education. (Not that we necessarily agree on who those young people are).

    • Chris Bonney

      27.Dec.2013 3:45pm

      @phil Jordan, One of the most concerning aspects of this dialogue s your pseudo-intellectual comment above. When the elected start using a syntax and choice of words that is wilfully obfuscating, it is a good idea to take stock of what they are up to.

      Any councillors who have recently been elected to office might do themselves a favour by standing well back from this mess and ensure that they do not find themselves tarnished by association – especially as the measure of our failure in the arena of education is a Rosetta stone by which we can comprehend the incompetence or perhaps negligence of the previous regime across their entire field of responsibilities.

  13. Robert Jones

    25.Dec.2013 7:46pm

    I’m bound to drag the quality of the conversation down now, since I had two gins and tonic before my Christmas dinner, a bottle of Rioja with it, and am now hitting the Courvoisier; but what has struck me about the young people whom I’ve met is that they’re not wanting in intelligence, but relatively few of them can write, or argue logically – because to do that, you need words, and a structure of grammar (grammar being just logic applied to words, at least at its best). On the other hand, they make me look like a Neanderthal confronted with a food-mixer when they tackle computers.

    I don’t take a huge amount of comfort from this, because if they have nothing of coherent worth to communicate through their computers, there’s really not much point in their mastering of technology.

    Even so – those I know, including my nephew, who is a school-teacher, have developed a firm grasp of English, logic, argument, presentation, because they’ve not been limited by their education. This suggests to me that there is hope both for the education system, and for our young people, or at any event for many of them. Thinking back to my own youth, it was always the case – wasn’t it? – that those proficient in one skill were probably deficient in others; that most young people didn’t, at least at school, read much, or write well, or argue especially cogently.

    These attributes came, if they came at all, much later. It’s possible to be too despairing about the general state of education and ‘young people today’; it’s also possible to be entirely too optimistic of course – but they won’t be the first generation to have survived, rather than benefited from, their education. The important thing is to offer them the best we can – and on that front, the island is failing and we have to recognize and deal with that, for their sake and ours.

    My apologies if alcohol has entirely overthrown my capacity to reason: but it’s Christmas, and the booze is a rather competent pain-killer. Not that this is my only reason for resorting to it…

    • IMHO the role of education at secondary level is to give young people a background of general knowledge and the tools to think for themselves.

      Tertiary education builds on this by providing a deeper knowledge of particular backgrounds, and the tools to investigate and report on those investigations.

      Above all, education- especially tertiary education- should encourage students have the confidence to question EVERYTHING and not just accept what their elders say just because it was said by their elders.

      So… IMHO.. other than vocational subjects such as the law, medicine and so on, in the long run it matters little what subjects the students read at university as long as they enjoy the subject matter and are willing to work at mastering it.

      The real task of their professors is to get the student to question everything in an attempt slaughter the sacred cows that exist in all walks of life.

      [However, I agree that the general standard of writing demonstrated by many graduates is often appalling. English grammar should be an examinable subject in secondary school and university dons should mark down dissertations and essays that contain poor grammar. Standards would slowly improve.}

    • peaceful_life

      25.Dec.2013 8:15pm

      Couldn’t agree more on this….
      “the island is failing and we have to recognize and deal with that, for their sake and ours”

      We can view this as an opportunity.

  14. peaceful_life

    25.Dec.2013 8:04pm

    Clearly the system doesn’t work or we wouldn’t be in such a mess.
    It’s most certainly not ‘my’ example, it is an observable fact that a proportion of our children are now eating from foodbanks, whether or not they happen to be in the audience isn’t the point, allow me some licence on the vague analogy, the point is the entire thing is broken, hence the absurdity of the situation.

    To laud the point that a minority of students can answer some questions in a fashion that impresses you is not, in any shape or form, a mark that the education received and repeated is fit for purpose, indeed….even with these minority beacons of brilliance, we still ended up where we are.

    For instance…..
    According to the framework for change document, it clearly states the acknowledgment of peak oil and climate change, it would then be fair to assume that some extrapolation of the ramifications of these things has taken place, with this in mind… there a policy being put in place to teach about these things in at least the islands schools and if not, why not?…..within that there is also the matter of ‘growth’ and until we are educated in getting to grips with what that entails, then yes….we’re dealing mostly with abstraction that cannot measure up to realities, recite the works of Shakespeare to a low pressure storm in the hope that it will dissipate or throw a quantum theory at energy levels in an attempt to change them.

    Poverty should not be accepted, we need systems that are entirely inclusive and flexible enough to identify possible outcomes of inequality and design them out.

    • Are not questions still being asked by scientists about the validity of ” peak oil and climate change” arguments?

      • peaceful_life

        25.Dec.2013 8:12pm

        Both are accepted by the majority.

        • @PL “Both are accepted by the majority.”

          You might be interested in the report in the July Forbes Magazine (US)- “That Scientific Global Warming Consensus…Not!” – that challenges that received wisdom.

          • peaceful_life

            26.Dec.2013 1:47pm

            You’ve read this, yes?

          • peaceful_life

            27.Dec.2013 3:01pm

            Check the wiki for the ‘heartland institute’ that provided much of the authors information.

            In specific…see what it has to say about them influencing school curriculum.

          • @PL Thanks for the tip about the Heartland Institute”. It blows the credibility of the Forbes article to pieces. Check out what Sourcewatch says about the “Think Tank” (sic).

            BTW Sally, PL is correct in that education should include sessions on the environment and the threats to it.

            That education should be based on independent knowledge no biased information whether it is channelled through ideological or religious-based educational outlets, aka academies.

            In which case this strand is germane to the general thread, especially given the para. above that reports the previous free-market-biased IWC “Rather than seeking to lead schools forward towards educational excellence on behalf of the island’s community the Authority used schools’ growing self management, indeed autonomy, as a chance to cut them adrift.”

            “Give me the child, and I will mould the man.” (Gracian 17C Jesuit)

      • Robert Jones

        25.Dec.2013 8:37pm

        They are; but by far the safer and most responsible course is to accept that these developments are real, and that we should do our best, so far as we can, to counteract them.

        The snag about those who have been most sceptical in their response to climate change is that so many of them have vested interests in denying it’s happening: I’m not entirely sure whether it’s happening or not (but don’t remember winters like this in my relatively long life) but it seems best to me to limit the impact of human activities on the environment as best we can: and no one can seriously deny the disastrous consequences of deforestation (even if all you’re concerned about is the decimation of species) on an environment which, when I was a child, we took for granted would last forever.

        Who, for example, ever thought that the very existence of the orang-outan, the rhinoceros, even the elephant, would be threatened by human activity? We can’t let these species, or their environment, disappear if only out of cynical self-interest. But they’re going – this terrifies me, depresses me, and should be a call to action for all of us.

        • @RJ “(but don’t remember winters like this in my relatively long life)”

          What about 1947, 1963, 1978-79? Nostalgia is not what it was! :-))

          • Robert Jones

            27.Dec.2013 11:09am

            Those were bad winters in a different way (I don’t remember 1947!) – what’s changed,or is in the process of changing, is temperature, and the amount of rainfall. It may, eg, feel cold right now, but only because many of us have got used to central heating: it’s actually extremely mild – and this isn’t good news; we need periods of real cold, to kill off hideous bugs, apart from anything else.

            That’s what I meant by “winters like this”; doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten the winter of ’63, when I opened the back door to face a sold wall of snow…. dogs loved it, at least..

    • phil jordan

      25.Dec.2013 11:28pm

      My goodness..

      There is much to discuss within all of this…

      I have no idea what proportion of children are eating from foodbanks……do you?

      Is it a some sort of measure of educational attainment…?

      (I’m prepared to accept in a broad consensus that poverty hinders educational opportunity but…that’s a very different discussion, is it not?)

      I’m interested however, in the notion of “fit for purpose” which, I might suggest, is extraordinarily subjective….

      However, those that achieve *brilliance* in terms of …….well… in terms of what? That pass through the system we have…those that rise into adulthood, those that become leaders of their fields, those that shape the world we live in…through almost incalculable ways – through Arts, Science,Politics and much more..those that come out of our education system…

      You mention the Framework For Change….

      That requires a perspective that is difficult to deliver from a whole plethora of reasons.

      Academies do not fall under the remit, directly, of the Local Authority. Four out of the six senior schools on this Island (soon to be more….) are Academies…
      They are free, to a great extent……along with the ‘Free Schools’ to choose their destiny and are outside of the control and direction of the Local Authority…In an agenda driven environment that seeks measured achievement by academic success I suspect that wider educational aspects are placed behind established and accepted measurements.
      Hence the hyperbola over bottom top or any where else in the table of achievements for Island schools.
      Part of the reality is, I’m afraid, the wonderful experiment that places schools and their agendas and (to some extent) their curriculums’ beyond immediate influence from local authority.

      In the meantime, we need to instruct and teach children growing into adulthood how to calculate numbers, how to express themselves through common language and how to place their holistic view into some sense that mirrors the world they live in….

      The problems you incorporate are beyond local interventionism and far in excess of any aspirational documents that are referenced…

      Of course, the reality, for many people, is that those young people who achieve educational success (again, whatever one wishes to accredit upon that notion..)are often very well equipped to measure and calculate the wider implications of the structure of *their* world than, perhaps, others. Others with less educational achievements.
      I’m impressed by the ability to recount facts at an early age but the outcomes are, of course, delivering people into adulthood that are well capable of intellectually considered opinions, views and ideas and philosophies…in a multitude of professional aptitudes.
      All of those people, however many or small in number contribute…and are part of, and derive from, our *system*

      That the system may not accord with your values is accepted but, in my view, is nonetheless intrinsically important to the position we face.

      I’m happy to discuss “inequality” driven from poverty…though the remedies of such considerations are far and away above and beyond the remit of any local authority…..

      • peaceful_life

        26.Dec.2013 12:17am

        ‘346,992 people received a minimum of three days emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks in 2012-13, compared to 128,697 in 2011-12 and up from 26,000 in 2008-09. Of those helped in 2012-13, 126,889 (36.6 percent) were children’

        This…. “and how to place their holistic view into some sense that mirrors the world they live in”, is absolutely fundamental, so is the reality of our problems being reflected in the current curriculum and teachings or not?

        This has nothing to do with my values, Phil, it’s about the governing laws of physics, how they mold and shape our world and changing in accordance with how they change, now you may well find that subjective, but I assure you the laws of physics don’t care.

  15. phil jordan

    26.Dec.2013 1:59am

    Right… so, if we accept that people at university (or those in any audience for a tv show…) are probably not in that classification of children…I’m still interested to know how the impact of using food banks (which I am quite prepared, to accept exist – and disgracefully so – from a socially concerned perspective…)impact on education?

    We seem to have drifted into another dimension…?

    We also seem to talk around great ideals that may, or may not shape, our localised view…

    The issue, as I point out, is that as a local authority ..we have responsibility, but little or no authority over the majority of (senior) schools on this Island.

    That’s a reality…. I/we cannot change that because it is the preference of central government to construct the environment that defines how children are *educated*.
    They define how it is taught and they define how it is measured…or they allow *private* educators to do so…

    You repeat your concerns about wider *holistic* education (which I have no problem in agreeing with…) but in doing so, seemingly ignore the actual education of people which takes *those* (all?) people from childhood into adulthood and therein imparting received knowledge and wisdom in very specific faculties that, under certain criteria, aid and assist the overall development of our aspirations.

    Of course this is not about *your* values (or mine, for that matter..)…it’s about being able to deal with what we can… being able to influence and manage what we have…

    Meanwhile, we have young people who demonstrate the success of our (general) education system that enables them to progress their aspirations and the wider community aspirations… Since we do not have a University on the Island it is difficult to assimilate what aspirations are achieved or what overall advantages are gained… I suspect that our overall examination results impact the onward capabilities and opportunities for Island children and that is something we have to address. Not for *us* but for our children.
    Whether the type, content and detail of University education (or any other, for that matter)accords with your view, or with the “laws of physics” remains to be seen.
    I’m happy to accept it doesn’t…

  16. peaceful_life

    26.Dec.2013 2:21am

    Ok, keeping it brief.

    Is the reality of our problems being reflected in the current curriculum and teachings or not?

    • Steve Goodman

      26.Dec.2013 9:47am

      Not, is the likely answer to your question I fear.

      More alarming to me is the failure to reflect the reality of our problems in the policies of world leaders. If nothing else, they must know that doing too little too late will always cost more. There’s only so much we can do ourselves. At this time of year maybe they should be asking What would Jesus do?

      • peaceful_life

        27.Dec.2013 1:04am

        He’d most likely consult Plato on the causes of soil erosion, realise that by the time he was born his lands had already been turned to desert, think for a bit and then go and turn over the tables of commodity investors. Or…just turn everything into wine and go for the hedonism thing.

        And it’s not ‘likely’, Steve, it’s a flat NO……..and you know it.

  17. Tanja Rebel

    26.Dec.2013 12:12pm

    Perhaps it is time to introduce ethics as a subject in our national curriculum. This should cover our responsibility to take care of the environment + the importance of aesthetics, which really is environment for the soul.

    • Quite right! “The Only Way is Ethics!” :-))

    • Robert Jones

      27.Dec.2013 11:34am

      This was covered in a way once upon a time – it was called various things, but I remember it as RE – Religious Education. I hadn’t a lot of patience with the religion – and have even less now – but it was a period in the school week when we could discuss issues which were essentially ethical and moral; probably the most useful period in the week (thanks to David Tamcken, our teacher in this subject, who is still with us today).

      Given the plurality of religions today, it may be difficult to bring people together to discuss civic issues or those of contemporary ethics and morality – but if schools can’t offer this (and you, TR, will probably know better than I, since your schooldays are a lot more recent then mine: sadly..)it’s time they did.

  18. Anyone fancy posting a copy of this on David Pugh’s Wiki page?

    I’m sure it will be gone by morning!

  19. Dizenchanted

    26.Dec.2013 9:59pm

    There seems to be a misunderstanding with my last comment, as we’re hearing a chorus of ‘We’ve got nothing to hide’ coming from the Indies.

    I’m not talking about the Indies burying it.

    Do the Indies not realised that they are, again, being played by the officers at the council?

    This shattering expose of Island education failures has, without doubt, been arranged to silently slip out over the Christmas break. Happily On The Wight spotted it, but still not everyone will hear about this, as people are busy with family. Exactly why it’s come out now.

    Indies, are you seriously saying that you haven’t wonder why the report has been sat on for so long, for it miraculously to appear at the January meeting, whose papers just happen to come out over Christmas?

    Either the Indies are naive beyond belief, or they’re complicit in letting the officers get away with protecting their own, even if most of those might have gone.

    It’s important to remember that there’s two parts to the council. The few elected councillors and a considerably larger number of council officers.

    Once this is in mind, you must try and understand the minds of the officers, which in my view work down levels of who they feel they answer to. First loyalty is in the protection of fellow officers (You never know when you might work with them again in another council and if you back them up, they’ll back you up too), then comes carrying out the desires and policies of the national government. This is followed by appeasing the locally elected officials and if there’s any space, to serve the residents of the area.

    Burying this report over Christmas, is to me, a perfect example of this in action and all the Indies can say is, “it’s just because the meeting is in January”. Pleeeeaze! The Indies really to have to wake up a little.

  20. peaceful_life

    26.Dec.2013 11:43pm

    I guess it’s just Forbes doing what Forbes does, but it has nothing to do with the serious analysis of scientific data and challenges nothing.

    • @PL However the Forbes article does provide a survey of several reports that appear to demonstrate the differences in scientific opinions on climate change (generally agreed) and its causation (a substantial level of disagreement).

      [I am no scientist so cannot comment just collect. compare and contrast information from more informed people on the subject.]

      On the other hand, Gaia entusiasts will dismiss such reports out-of-hand perhaps due to a measure of cognitive dissonance between their belief and new information i.e.
      “When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance”.

      • Sally Perry

        27.Dec.2013 2:05pm

        I haven’t been following the full discussion here between you two, but from a swift glance, it appears pretty off-topic.

        For the sake of other readers who are interested in comments relating to the article’s contents, perhaps we could keep the discussion on-topic?


        • peaceful_life

          27.Dec.2013 2:39pm

          Sally, with respect, it is absolutely crucial that our children are taught the truths about the real drivers of their world, peak oil and climate change govern every single facet of their and our lives and if they are not being taught the truths on these things then I would suggest it is unequivocally on topic.

          How are we to grow food?….what type of industrious (therefore jobs) should we be adapting, how will society have to restructure, etc etc etc….

          How can we not have these things as a foundation of our childrens education systems?

        • Island Monkey

          28.Dec.2013 10:05am

          As long as people want to come up with excuses, climate change being the most absurd, nothing will change.

          Educating children is not really that complex is it? Other people manage.

          Pretending without a shed of evidence that somehow the proportion of Island kids eating from food banks has caused this catastrophic failure is just preposterous.

          Apathy, poor leadership, poor teachers, possibly bad parenting MUST be the cause of our unique education misery. These are the issues that must be addressed.

          I have no doubt that senior officers chose their moment to release the report. Probably to deflect or minimise blame. Well done OTW for highlighting it – shame on those of you hijacking it for other political purposes.

          Let’s not carry on the way we have – improvement needs collective agreement and certainly hard work. No other issue on this Island is as important. Blame is fine, and there is plenty to go around.

          • peaceful_life

            28.Dec.2013 3:32pm

            I think you’ve misunderstood what I’ve written.

            I am not and not once have said that the topics are the reason for failing education, rather that ignoring them or thinking that they don’t matter is the reason.

        • Some discussions require extra attention, study and thinking from usual, rather like ‘slow food’ compared to fast food. Then the links to the topic can become evident.

  21. Robert Jones

    27.Dec.2013 11:23am

    That climate change is happening is perfectly obvious. The controversy arises mostly on the ground of whether human activity has caused or exacerbated it or not. Why, you might think, would it matter whether we’d caused it or not – what difference does it make?

    There’s a good reason why some like to say we’ve had nothing to do with it: and that is, the more we look at causes, the more we’re likely to conclude that the economic system and processes of production are not only over-taxing the world’s finite resources, but are also degrading its environment through climate change. If we then conclude that unlimited growth isn’t sustainable, the profit from production is threatened; and there are those who would rather not live at all (or are indifferent as to whether others do) if they can’t continue to draw profit from surplus production.

    I leave this festive thought with you…

  22. Tanja Rebel

    27.Dec.2013 2:27pm

    Well said, Robert Jones! We need a new economic system and a new way of thinking which respects the earth and all beings living upon it. RE (now RS) indeed provides a valuable opportunity for pupils to discuss ethics, but this can be done under many guises – you can call it Philosophy or just plain Ethics. The title is not important, as long as pupils are given the opportunity to reflect upon these important matters and discuss what needs doing.

  23. Steve Goodman

    27.Dec.2013 8:49pm

    This has drawn attention to failure in teaching practice, content, & results. Perhaps our improving island community could use the opportunity associated with the imminent additional effort (& money?) to lead on improving the national curriculum, which is about to include financial education.

    That could be done simply (& cheaply) by saying something as basic as “banks can and will rip you off” which is otherwise unlikely to be said, because schools will rely on branded material from the disgraced banks themselves.

    Better still, island education could include easy access to Private Eye (for more detail on what I have just written see p7 of current issue 1356).

    Introducing superior educational tools such as PE & OTW as a route to learning about what really matters could turn things around for us. We know that ‘business as usual’ is not going to help.

    • peaceful_life

      27.Dec.2013 10:40pm

      It’s not enough, Steve, the fundamentals need taught….and for goodness sake, let the teachers teach, there is nothing wrong, per se, with the content and substance of teaching practice, it’s the narrative and direction of it’s focus that’s missing, ‘aspirations’ must change in accordance with the possible, equitable and just.

      We’ve experienced various stages of r-evolutionary phases, most latterly the agricultural, industrial and the technological, throughout that journey we’ve been paying more attention to the destination rather than journey itself, now we enter a new phase of restoration and regeneration where we must use all of the *tools* we’ve accumulated to justify our potential and least not…just to give the kids a bl**dy chance at ‘life’.

      I’d probably favour, Ivan Illich’s tools for conviviality over peripheral views (right as they be) of PE or OTW, no irony missed in that btw ;-0)

  24. peaceful_life

    27.Dec.2013 10:58pm


    Kudos to you and the candour of your reply, thank you.

    Just to let you know on the ‘Gaia’ thing, I’m not a subscriber myself, at least…not yet, I am however a fastidious student of the interconnections, dependencies, symbiotic relationships and interwoven patterns throughout the fabric of ‘life’, considering that we all intrinsically know/feel that we’re all made up of jelly babies and bits of star stuff…I may well get to a point of a agreement with the Gaia hypothesis, I dunno, but I do know……it’s the only home I’ve got.

  25. redstream

    31.Dec.2013 8:17am

    I have come to this story somewhat late since , like other readers , Christmas festivities drowned out news interrogation . However ,I have read the 69 comments posted so far and none have really focused on the extreme damage to our children reported on by the Director for Childrens services for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. It is in relation to the stewardship of Pugh and Benyon that the most damning comment is reserved . Paras 3.3 ,3.4 and 3.5 contain the key statements . I extract a few but I assure readers that these are not taken out of context .The whole report can be easily accessed on the net .

    “The local authority made other mistakes that were far more damaging in their potential consequences .Simply it failed in a number of statutory duties vis a vis schools….”

    “The Authority took neither rapid nor decisive action in relation to poorly performing school. In fact , its use of data and information was so poor that it had no accurate sense of which schools were performing poorly , or well and in what ways . It failed to develop robust school improvement strategies , leaving itself and others without direction ……”
    The complete read presents an even worse catalogue of incompetence and mismanagement .
    Why does this matter ? What is important is the best way forward of course . But what grates so much is the public utterances by David Pugh claiming that everything is improving and that he is proud of his educational stewardship . I think that the new IOW Council should ask PUGH and BENYON to attend a public meeting to explain exactly what possessed them to arrogantly continue with their incompetent handling of this vital portfolio . Its one thing to make mistakes however serious . Its another to pretend that you are blameless . Through their answers we might learn something to ensure that we cannot in future elect and appoint such individuals but I guess this is wishful thinking

    • peaceful_life

      31.Dec.2013 5:42pm

      Hi, Redstream.

      To be fair, I addressed the extreme damage quite early on in the thread, but perhaps a bit beyond the boundaries of standards.

      You rightly seek remedy on accountability, but, IMHO, you should also weigh up the relevance of how the portfolios content is directed.


  26. peaceful_life

    3.Jan.2014 5:22pm

    Not sure if this is a resource that anyone within education (or anyone really) might find useful, maybe some mix and matching here and there perhaps.A lot of the computer tech stuff is outdated, but there’s still lots of good stuff to be had.

    I find the, ‘Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences’, fascinating.
    (they are free course btw)

  27. peaceful_life

    3.Jan.2014 6:14pm

    Since 1998, science teacher Michael Becker has guided a program that offers students a higher level of connectivity between school and community. Using a hands-on approach to solving real-life problems…..

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