Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Listen to Sedgehill students - does this look like a 'failing' school?

Lewisham Council are trying to impose their Academy plans on Sedgehill School, supposedly 'for the good of the children'. But, if it's young people that they really care about, then they should listen to what students have to say for themselves!

Below are extracts from just two of the letters that have been sent to the Council in protest - plus a youtube link to the latest example of the talent that has been nurtured by Sedgehill:

Dear Frankie Sulke,

I have recently learned about your current plans to ‘transform’ Sedgehill School into another academy, which deeply saddens and infuriates me. Your anti-Sedgehill agenda is one that is unfair, unnecessary and immoral. Our school needs not to be turned around, but supported. I had been a student of Sedgehill for seven years and in those seven years, I must say that Sedgehill has given me more than an education: it has given me the virtue of courage, the skills of a leader and the understanding of individualism. It has in fact given me a life. I now attend the Russell Group University of Manchester, which has now been ranked as 30th in the world by QS higher education specialists; a dream that might have never happened had it not been for the teaching staff at Sedgehill.

... This year we have had our highest number of sixth form students be accepted in some of the most competitive institutions in the UK and in the world, and yet you’re adamant to rip out the heart out of our school. Does this not show increasing achievement and raising aspirations? Does this not suggest that we have been given a leadership team who encourage and push us in order for us to excel and be the best we can be? Clearly, to you Frankie, it does not.

... We are a strong and thriving community and will not let any other school make us feel lesser than what we are. I cannot stress enough how unfair and unnecessary your decision is. Your role as Director of Education should enable you to support us rather than completely turn against us. Furthermore, you seem to be undermining all of what it means to be a young person in Lewisham; as a Lewisham Pupil Ambassador I know what it means and how it feels to be part of a positive community, which is built on every participating individual’s own merits and struggles, one that is allowed to develop on that basis and one that is supported and encouraged by those who preside above; NOT undermined and destroyed.

... Furthermore, you have shown nothing but disrespect towards our staff and governors, totally ignoring what they do and have done for many of us Sedgehill students. Assigning your own group of interim governors just because our governing body will not succumb to your orders is quite disgusting and suggests that you are running more of a dictatorship as opposed to a democracy.

... The actions of the Sedgehill community over the past few days must exhibit the strength of the Sedgehill spirit – the fact that we are not prepared to silently accept these imposed plans and go down without a fight show how much we appreciate our school; a school which pupils are very proud of.

Damali Eastmond-Scott 

Sedgehill prefect, Sedgehill sixth form ambassador, Lewisham pupil ambassador.

In the summer of 2014 I graduated from Sedgehill Sixth Form with two A*s and an A in my A Levels. I am currently a student at the University of Sheffield, achieving First-Class marks, and preparing to study abroad on two different continents in the next twelve months. Do I sound like a student whose school has failed them?

Between September 2007 and August 2014, Sedgehill School was my home. I call it this, not because of the amount of time I spent there (although I would not trade those days for anything), but because it was where I felt I belonged. It was where I felt safe. It was where I felt part of a community, a community that I have witnessed grow stronger and stronger, year after year.

Sedgehill is a school where growth is encouraged, not just growth of statistics and percentages, but growth of people, whether that be staff or students. This is why I managed to achieve the grades I did, because the focus at Sedgehill is not only on students as numbers, but students as people, and this is just one reason why it would be absolutely devastating to turn this flourishing community-based school into an academy.

The diverse, overwhelmingly positive community at Sedgehill is its greatest asset and the biggest contributor to the success of its students. It is something that could not be replaced by anything else, especially not a forced academisation. The reason Sedgehill students are able to improve so easily, inside and outside of the classroom, is because this community atmosphere allows students to build great friendships with like-minded, enthusiastic individuals, and develop outstanding professional relationships with teachers who are willing to help at every stage. ... As an academy, Sedgehill would lose valuable members of its community, and would only be able to achieve strong results through the manipulation of staff, students, and data. Surely this cannot be viewed as progress or improvement.

It must be asked why it is being suggested that Sedgehill needs this ‘improvement’ in the first place. As I stated above, I have personally witnessed Sedgehill grow in strength each year. The outrage from staff, students, parents, and many others at the proposed plans for Sedgehill School prove that all concerned with the school believe that an academy is most definitely not a step forward, and would in fact destroy our school.

If the proposals are not going to help those at the school, then what and whom are they really for? Statistics and figures are being prioritised over real pupils, and it is sickening. Sedgehill is already a fantastic school, with fantastic students. It must remain that way, and be allowed to continue its journey to great successes, without being cut short and exploited by these outrageous academisation plans.

Michael Powell-Davies

Sedgehill student, 2007-2014.

Finally, Vocalize, Sedgehill's student choir, has just released the video from its project with the Royal Albert Hall. Coldplay lent their support to the video, which sees Vocalize present their version of the group's Christmas Lights. You can view the video here

As Michael asks above, does this look like a failing school to you?

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