I AM SICK and tired of reading the spurious arguments and claims of John McNally to justify his proposals to dismantle the highly effective and successful pyramid of schools in the Shelley area.

If it’s about standards – why has he not raised the matter or expressed any concerns in the many pyramid meetings over the past two years since he was appointed head?

The local authority’s Adviser who visits schools on an annual basis to check on such issues did not identify any standards issues and the LA has stated very clearly, several times recently, that there are no standards issues in this pyramid.

If it’s not about money – why has he expressed concerns to his governors about budgets reducing and forgotten to mention that by taking more pupils he will have the benefit of AWPU (age-weighted pupil units) which is the money allocated for each pupil and is the basic unit of funding for a school?

If it is all governor-led – who provides information to the governors and makes suggestions on future strategy to them?

If it is all about giving parents’ choice – a choice which will potentially close the Middle schools as we know them and possibly some of the small First schools; which is causing huge anxiety and confusion and potentially catastrophic disruption to their children’s education – who, in their right mind, is going to vote for this sort of choice?

Mr McNally has an MBA degree which, as I understand it, teaches business leaders, among other things, how to navigate crises, when they generally prefer to give the impression that everything is under control all the time.

When managing a crisis, MBAs are told that coming up with a solution should include thinking deeply about all the people who are likely to be affected by the crisis.

In this case, the crisis has been caused by Mr McNally and he and his governors should have thought about this earlier instead of taking part in what Barry Gibson (Examiner, Wednesday October 30) called “this act of unilateral vandalism”.

I have been involved with this outstanding school for many years.

I am extremely proud of it; what it stands for and the outstanding education and other opportunities it offers its pupils.

I am proud of the outstanding part Scissett Middle School plays in a highly respected, highly valued and high achieving pyramid of schools.

By even beginning to suggest that this should be dismantled, Mr McNally and his governors should seriously consider their positions.

Sue Lord

Chair of governors, Scissett Middle School

Clear lessons

AS THE arguments rage over the future of schooling in our part of Kirklees one lesson is already clear: Shelley College is no longer “our school” in any meaningful sense.

Now it is “their school” - Mr McNally’s and his governors’, and, ultimately, Michael Gove’s school. They will determine what is good for us.

The outcome of the impending struggle will be a test not of parent power – at least, not in any formal sense – but of the ambition, ruthlessness and perhaps the short-sightedness of Mr McNally and his governors to impose their vision on the rest of us.

Meanwhile we can be confident that the behaviour of Mr McNally will not be lost on present and prospective pupils.

His eloquent lesson about power and responsibility is one that no amount of preaching about good citizenship and the wider society can rectify.

Ray Fisher


Education not competition

IT SEEMS to me that the problem highlighted by the Shelley College proposals (irrespective of whether they are based on accurate figures, best practice and good intentions) is that the academy system encourages academies to be concerned principally, if not entirely, with the interests of a single school and its pupils, much as Barry Gibson mentioned in his column the other day.

This risks, as has happened in this case, changes being proposed in an atmosphere of competition and confrontation, instead of co-operation and consultation.

It seems to me to be indisputable that the best way to come up with the best solution for all the children affected is for all those concerned (that’s Shelley HS, the middle schools, all the primary schools, the council and, if appropriate, the Department for Education) to work together on the issue – not against each other.

Competition may be fine in the right areas; but in education it is wrong. In competition there are winners and losers – and whoever loses takes their share of the children with them. That is unacceptable.

John Emms


A parent’s view

I AM a parent of two children who have been through the Shelley Pyramid system. I would like to put across a few points of view with regards to the Shelley College proposals to expand to include year 7 and 8 students.

Firstly, the number of students quoted in the expansion discussions in the Examiner have been 360. In fact the College would have an additional 600-700 students if they include year 7 and 8.

This would make Shelley College a school of 2,000-2,100 students. At age 11 imagine how daunting this would feel.

How would the College ensure all those students achieved their potential?

Mr McNally appears to be saying that by expanding Shelley College would improve education attainment.

Both my children did very well in the middle school system, they achieved 10.5-12 GCSEs at grade A to C. Is that not proof enough that the current system works?

Mr McNally also appears to be focusing on education attainment when in fact most parents are interested in other aspects of their child’s education too.

The evidence is that a tripartite relationship between child, parents and school is required to ensure a child reaches their potential in the education system. My experience of middle school is that the communication and engagement between school and parents is excellent, unfortunately this has not been my experience of Shelley College.

Pastoral support is important to parents as their children experience worries at school and need the support to deal with those.

The pastoral system at the middle school was led by experienced teachers, at Shelley College the pastoral system is led by non teaching staff.

Engagement in sport is a protective factor against adolescent risk taking behaviour. The middle school provided a wide range of sporting opportunities whereas sporting opportunities at Shelley College were limited to traditional sports.

Our children were actively encouraged by the sporting teachers at middle school, at Shelley College the same enthusiasm has not been apparent.

During the middle school years the children received Personal and Social health Education (education about healthy eating, personal safety, smoking, drugs and alcohol, misuse , relationships and sexual health).

Then when at Shelley College this education stopped, bar half a day per term.

In this community we do have young people experimenting and taking risks in all these areas, therefore, aged 13 and upwards, when at Shelley College, this education should continue to be on a weekly basis.

It is all well and good getting exams but if our young people do not develop the knowledge and skills to deal with real life and its issues what good will exam results do?

If Mr McNally and the governors of Shelley College can improve Shelley College so that it meets or exceeds the provision of the middle schools then maybe parents would consider sending their young and more vulnerable 11 and 12 years olds to the college.

Concerned Parent

Damp squib

HAVING been to the YMCA bonfire at Laund Hill for the first time it is not something we will be doing again.

After waiting in the freezing cold for nearly two hours with our grandchildren the fireworks were very disappointing. I have seen a better and longer display in next door’s garden.

The area was not lit well so much of the time you could not see where you were going. It would have been easy to loose a child.

The food was awful my daughter had a burger which was raw in the middle, and the hot dogs were anaemic. We saw lots of half eaten food left around. We were under the impression that the YMCA did a good display. Obviously we were misinformed.

J Bates