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Editor’s comment: School’s lack of accountability is by design

PUBLISHED: 14:59 03 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:59 03 July 2019

A massive pillar fell from the tenth floor of a building site where Hackney New Primary School will be sited. It narrowly avoided hitting a woman waiting at the traffic light junction in her Mini, pictured in the foreground. Picture: KAPIL GUPTA

A massive pillar fell from the tenth floor of a building site where Hackney New Primary School will be sited. It narrowly avoided hitting a woman waiting at the traffic light junction in her Mini, pictured in the foreground. Picture: KAPIL GUPTA

Kapil Gupta

If you think you’re having a bad week, spare a thought for Hackney New School.

First it manages to dismiss two headteachers in the space of a week - then a huge pole plunges 10 storeys into the road from the primary school site being built for it next door.

No, it's hardly incisive current affairs analysis to say that enormous chunks of metal shouldn't be falling into residential streets, but as with the crumbling concrete in Stoke Newington High Street during high winds earlier this year it is not by design but by pure, terrifying chance that someone was not killed or seriously injured. I suspect neighbours and workers would feel more comfortable if the site were closed so a full investigation could be carried out (so long as the workers weren't left out of pocket).

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As for the secondary school, it's hard not to feel that something a little shambolic is taking place when a head is sacked with immediate effect weeks before the end of term, leaving teachers openly weeping in front of students, only for her replacement to be given the boot too a few days later.

Imagine being a teacher there - and imagine the impact on the students.

If one thing links events at the primary and secondary sites this week it is a lack of accountability caused in part by the diminishing role of local authorities in delivering education. Of course councils make mistakes, but at least when councils built schools you knew who to blame if they fell apart. This is a free school and a block of private flats being built without the delivery of any affordable housing by a group of developers, one of whom has now blamed an unnamed subcontractor for the accident while the others have remained silent altogether.

Similarly, if the local education authority had at least a hand in running the secondary school perhaps it could have benefited from the Hackney Learning Trust's intervention on behaviour (something the teachers suggested themselves) and dare I say in HR, whose operation appears from an outsider's perspective to be a little chaotic.

As ever, the hypothesis that privatisation offers the best value for the taxpayer is rather less than proven.


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