This morning the announcement came that outside organisations will become partners in trusts running New College, Babington College and Fullhurst College.
The PR campaign was co-ordinated so that a journalist from the BBC and I were invited to a briefing at Leicester City Council yesterday, with all information under embargo until today. All the trust partners knew that the development would be made public today.
The city council’s cabinet member for education duly appeared on the radio this morning and my article appeared in today’s Leiecster Mercury.
As part of the PR strategy, much has been made about how these schools will be open and accountable and “stakeholders” such as parents, students and community groups will have a major say in how they are run. They will even vote a representative to each trust.
So this morning I asked Leicester College, which is to be the lead partner at Babington College why they wanted to be involved. What would be the benefit to them, I asked, and what would be the benefit to Babington?
The whole afternoon went past until, at 4.40pm, minutes before the newspaper’s deadline, an email came back from Leicester College’s press office.
All enquiries related to the National Challenge Co-operative Trust are being directed to the local authority.
An email address of the city council’s press officer, who was present at yesterday’s briefing, helpfully followed.
So, this is the brave new world of education. The main organisation that will run a secondary school from September is refusing to say why.
We’ve heard from the local authority – the whole point of my question to Leicester College was to hear their point of view. Surely that’s a valid inquiry of a publicly funded body.
(Incidentally, Ian Wilson, principal of Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I college, which is to become a partner at New College, took time out of his busy schedule to give me comprehensive reasons as to his involvement. And very persuasive his argument was too. You can read it in tomorrow’s Mercury.)
Whether you believe trust schools are an excellent way of raising standards or fear they are the first step in what the unions call the “privatisation” of education, it cannot be denied these are controversial and important developments.
The fact that Leicester College will not comment is an insult to parents at Babington.