Hands Up – Who Can’t Wait To Employ The Likes Of Leah?

The ‘Indy’ is rhapsodising over a new superhead:

Her first job after leaving school was as a cleaner. Now Joy Ballard is helping Willows High School in Cardiff clean up its act in a very different role – as its head teacher.

Ballard is also the latest inspirational head to be given a nationally televised showcase for her methods, after Channel 4’s documentary cameras followed the pupils and teachers at her school for six weeks late last year.

Quite a rise, eh? And yet the ‘Guardian’ is always telling us that the ‘disadvantaged’ are doomed to dead end jobs…

When she arrived at the school three years ago, only 13 per cent of the pupils were gaining five A* to C grades at GCSE including maths and English. “It wasn’t just the worst school in Cardiff – it was the worst in Wales.”

Three years later, 50 per cent of GCSE candidates are now achieving that landmark. But, as Ms Ballard puts it, “50 per cent achieving it means 50 per cent aren’t.”

Well, she’s learned something, at least…

The philosophy she has introduced at the school makes it clear to pupils that their teachers will never give up on them.

Oh, right. And…just how does that work, in practice?

The first episode of the series, to be broadcast later this month, features one pupil, Leah, a GCSE student, who is constantly truanting or arriving late for lessons, but has a love of drama. Her teacher, Peter Hennessey, has taken to ringing her on her mobile every morning to make sure she is coming to school. It doesn’t always work, of course – but in the end she gets her GCSEs.

Well, that’ll be great news for her future employer, won’t it?

Will they be willing to call her every day to see she turns up for her shift, or will they give up on her and hand her a P45?

Mr Hennessey is described by Ms Ballard as a “Victor Meldrew character”, and is seen by the pupils as one of their strictest teachers. However, his dedication to the job eventually pays off with Leah as she appreciates he is trying to help her.

“There are a lot of kids in our school who don’t find things naturally easy,” said Ms Ballard.

Like turning up..?

“It would be so easy to give up on (pupils like) Leah but I have an extraordinary belief in the kids. I just want us to keep them all there at school – including those who struggle along the way.”

The school does not resort to exclusions. “If you show you are disappointed with them (the pupils), that’s the biggest punishment of all,” said Ms Ballard.

She admits to being a “very emotional person” and that she “cries every day” about the school and its pupils.

Finally, something we can agree on! I’m weeping too. But not, I suspect, for the same reason…

3 comments for “Hands Up – Who Can’t Wait To Employ The Likes Of Leah?

  1. Errol
    August 18, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    I must be strange. My employer *does* ring those who are late. It gives people innumerable chances to get in to work. This only changed when someone else threatened to leave.

    Now, I also saw this same attitude of lattitude and decided to end my 7-5 days.

    This school is just odd. Discipline comes from the home. If this ‘Leah’ person (and you can tell by the name what the parents are like) hasn’t supporting, education valuing parents (and she obviously hasn’t – then she’s doomed either way.

    Now imagine if there were no welfare handouts, or if she received thme, her parent’s handouts would fall. Suddenly, they’d encourage her to find work.

    She’s grown up having it shown and proved to her that she doesn’t have to work to live. Someone else will *always* be made to pay her way and she’ll milk that for all she can throughout her life because that is the lesson her parents are teaching her.

    Notable, of course, that while she cannot get into school that she has a mobile telephone. No doubt a flash new one. I for one am sick and tired of the value of 3 hours and 48 minutes of my working day being taken from my, by force and given freely, without restraint to human effluent.

  2. August 19, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Oh dear. I shall have to find a charity or NGO to donate to, to help those poor teachers. 🙁

  3. Mudplugger
    August 19, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Don’t worry, she’ll be found a cosy sinecure somewhere in the public sector, where she will be able to carry on that pattern, untroubled, until her still-generous occupational pension kicks in – the place is as full of ‘Leahs’ as it is empty of good management. Who’s the fools?

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