Just to put the record straight, Mr Wishart

My story appeared on the front of today’s Leicester Mercury about 40 job losses at Riverside Business and Enterprise College, in Rowley Fields, Leicester.

The story was headlined “Doomed College May Axe 40 Staff”.

The school is due to close in summer 2011 but will drastically reduce its pupil numbers next year. As a consequence fewer staff will be needed.

Teresa Green, apparently a member of staff at Riverside, left a message on the Leicester Mercury website underneath the story. I reproduce it here, together with my response, which I also posted on the site, because I think it goes to the heart of some of issues involved with writing about a controversial topic.

I would appreciate further comments.

From Teresa Green, Blaby:

Just to put the record straight, Mr Wishart.

Thank you for the exposure but I assume this is a comment from one individual staff member? Not all staff feel DOOMED, unsupported, tarnished.

Perhaps a little more investigation was necessary before this went to print. Most of the staff I have spoken to today are angry at this report as it now puts the school in an akward position with our collegaues in other schools.

I have never expressed my feelings. We are professionals no matter the job we are in teacher or support or premises officers and value the work we have done and continue to do at Riverside.

Other schools are not treating us like second class, we have not had any contact with them about jobs and only a very small number of staff have been on interviews.

We needed you Mr Wishart a long time ago before closure was confirmed we do not need this sort of headline now especially as it is not true.

There is obviously not much to report today on the streets of Leicester. In fact life at Riverside is okay, just watch this space in August when we exceed GCSE targets.

We are concentrating on education and not back biting other colleagues insecure posts. Its a huge shame we are closing, almost a sin but we are and have to move on.

Headlines and throw away comments from aggrieved staff members will certainly not help us now.

Perhaps we are DOOMED after this report.

From Ian Wishart, education correspondent, Leicester Mercury:

Hi Teresa
Thanks for commenting. You are wrong to assume the story is based on only one individual member of staff. Several people had input into the story, some quoted, some not.

At no point does the story question the professionalism of the staff. In fact quite the opposite. The quotes from the members of staff, and particularly the comments from Peter Flack of the NUT, highlight the quality of Riverside staff – and why any belief to the contrary would be unfair.

The quote from one of the staff members makes it clear that any question mark about the professionalism of staff at Riverside would be wrong. And points out the increasing GCSE results.

At no point do we say that all staff feel doomed, unsupported or tarnished. Clearly some staff do.

Nor indeed are we saying that staff are backbiting colleagues in other schools. (Incidentally, “doomed” in the headline – and I don’t write the headlines – is a statement of fact and not a subjective comment on the feeling of staff.)

The fact that the unions were unhappy with the original redundancy offer from the local authority (not mentioned in the story) shows that there is concern about the support given to find new jobs.

I agree, it is a huge shame Riverside is closing.

However, contrary to there being “not much to report on the streets of Leicester”, 40 redundancies by a public organisation is a matter of public interest. The comments by the members of staff in the story are genuinely held and are worthy of reporting – it is not me, nor the Leicester Mercury, saying these things but people closely affected.

They clearly do not represent everybody’s opinion, and that is always the case.

Thank you for adding your comment which adds another side of the story and therefore increases people’s understanding of the subject.

And, as ever, I am genuinely looking forward to reporting on Riverside’s GCSE results in August.

About Ian

A journalist working in Brussels
This entry was posted in Education analysis, Read all about it and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Just to put the record straight, Mr Wishart

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think that told her.

  2. peter flack says:

    Hi ian,

    I have to say that i was basically happy with the original article because it spelled out what the issues are now for Riverside staff. It is extremely sad that the LA, having spent so long ‘considering’ the future of Riverside – it is a year now since they first raised the issue – do not have in place proper, sustainable plans for ensuring both the continuing staffing of Riverside until it closes and the retentuon of these high quality staff in the city. The unions have many times made the case for a permanent, unattached supply pool that could be deployed to other schools as needed to cover vacancies, maternity leave, long term sickness etc. There used to be one. Now, would be an ideal time to resurect the idea and assure all staff at Riverside that if they do not secure posts in other schools prior to closure they will become part of that pool, with secure continuing employment.

  3. O'donnel says:

    i think riverside deserves to be closing. They have less teachers for the students therefore the students get substitute teachers to take over the lessons, in my mind thats bad.

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