Friday, October 08, 2004

Gobsmacked at Cambridge High

I downloaded the ERO report on Cambridge High hoping to catch some juicy bits. Although the bland descriptions of poor management have widely been reported, some of the details are just stunning:
Until 2003 the school provided a central school library as the key resource for meeting students’ information and reading needs. Early in 2003, after several months of the library being closed for stocktaking purposes, it was announced that the school library would be closed permanently. After the closure, the library books were dispersed to departments to be set up as classroom libraries. Some books (about 180 non-fiction) were given to the Cambridge Public Library.

ERO report, p20
It gets worse. A Cyber-cafe was intended to replace the library but never got built. Because the library was converted into the Achievement Recovery Centre (the cause of her original downfall):
There are few spaces for students for quiet activities during recess and lunchtimes. Students who may prefer to read, study or eat indoors have limited access to appropriate areas in which to do this.

p12, ERO report
The school management seems to have been quite clueless. Firstly because of financial problems:
Resourcing. Funding for curriculum resources was reduced in 2001 to enable the school to recover from its major financial deficit. Trustees have not yet restored previous levels of funding for faculties and departments. Heads of Department stated that they did not receive adequate funding to meet the students’ learning needs. Heads of Faculty reported that faculties had not been provided with sufficient resources to maintain and develop classroom resources to compensate for the closure of the school library.

p7, ERO Report
The lack of funding explains the circumstances behind the notorious "boner" essay. The Teacher had set a damnfool question for assignment because she didn't have proper resources. And why wasn't the funding restored?
Physical environment. ERO found that the overall school environment was shabby. While the street facade appears attractive and new buildings are currently under construction [emphasis mine], inside the gates even quite new buildings are uncared for. At the back of the school the temporary classrooms, provided for recent roll growth, are poorly maintained and, in some aspects, unsafe for students.

p11, ERO report
So the school was busy putting up new buildings, leaving the departments starved of resources, the existing buildings in a state of neglect, the school library shut down and they hadn't even built a cyber-cafe! How on earth can Allison Annan be proud of herself? It will be interesting to see the reactions of people that had originally praised her in the coming days. Among them would be the Herald editor that described her as "clear-eyed, tough-minded" and lauded her reign as:
Her energy, discipline, determination and at least some of her standards will be missed by those who worry that secondary education is once again becoming bland, regimented and crushing of principals with spirit.
Given a choice between Annan and no library and a "spiritually crushed principal" with a library, I know what I would prefer.