The Daily Mail must have loved this story. Pupils from a girls Grammar School in Buckinghamshire used facebook to voice their displeasure about the appointment of their new head. The newly appointed head then withdrew from the post, before she actually took the post up.
The pupils had been involved in the selection process, (a form of ‘pupil voice’) and preferred the acting Head over the one who was actually appointed. So, according to the Daily Mail, the disgruntled girls starting a bullying campaign on facebook. The appointed Head felt unable to take up the position amidst all this hatred, and the acting Head is still th acting Head. A case of pupils rejecting authority, it may seem. What makes it worse is the fact that this is, according to the Daily Mail, sanctioned by the new Labour Government (though readers of the Daily Mail may be more familiar with the phrase ‘Nu Liebour’). Its political correctness gone mad!
A previous post here referred to the NASUWT’s response to ‘pupil voice’. The Daily Mail suddenly finds itself on the side of a teaching union, highlighting how its members are concerned over government sanctioned ‘pupil voice’.
Of course, this post is hardly going accept the Daily Mail’s version of events without question.
The School in question had involved the pupils in the recruitment process. The use of pupils in this way is encouraged under a wider policy of ‘pupil voice’, though recruitment is not the only way in which ‘pupil voice’ is manifested.
The girls did favour the acting Head, not the eventual successful candidate. It is the governing body which has ultimate responsibility for making the decision, so it could be a simple case of the pupils preferring one candidate and the governing body preferring another. In such case disgruntled expressions from pupils, or anyone else are really out of place. However, it could also be the case that ‘pupil voice’ didn’t really take place. The Daily Mail glosses over a meeting called by the governing body. Here, a representative of the staff claimed that the views of staff and pupils had been overlooked in the appointment process. This is not just a case of disagreeing over the choice of candidate, it is an indication that the process in which pupils are staff and pupils are consulted may not have worked as well as it could. Also, this does not suggest a ‘crisis of adult authority’, the pupils are not taking over.
Then, there is the successful candidate herself. Mrs Jarrett decided not to take up the post for personal and professional reasons. We know no other details. Is it reasonable to guess that she was scared by a pupil ‘facebook revolt’? Has she never encountered disgruntled pupils, and dealt with this? Presumably she has, and, if not, and she has run as fast as she could from these facebooking pupils, then maybe the governing body did make the wrong choice.
There is also facebook itself. This is really what the Daily Mail is concerned with, though it does seem to be incidental to the case. It is possibly the case that some of the comments made by some pupils were unacceptable. The page has been removed so it is impossible to tell. In one way, the presence of such comments on such a site is hardly surprising as it provided an unofficial and online context for disgruntled pupils to express their frustration. However, concern about the process of the appointment was heard, not only in an online space, but in an offline, and official context, namely the special meeting arranged by the governing body. Again, concern was also voiced by staff.
The Daily Mail article can be found here. It is worth scrolling down to the readers’ comments. You will find a couple from the pupils, you will be able to spot them, they are reasoned and articulate, and, consequently have downrated by fellow Daily Mail readers.