Gripped by election fever

Brighouse High School head teacher Liz Cresswell
Brighouse High School head teacher Liz Cresswell

Election fever hit Brighouse High School last week as it did most of the UK, writes head teacher Liz Cresswell.

On election night the sixth form college remained open all night so that a group of sixth form students and teachers could share the unfolding of the election results. This was a particularly exciting experience for the students in Year 13 who were able to vote for the first time.

The group held a political quiz and political discussions as they awaited the results from polling stations across the country. They were sustained by a delivery of pizza mid -way through the evening and some makeshift beds were set up to allow those with less stamina to get forty winks.

There were wide ranging views expressed about the election outcome but all involved agreed that it was a fantastic and memorable way to experience their first franchised election night. Not surprisingly there were yawns and tired faces the next day and Honey the guide dog, who supported her owner throughout the evening, was especially exhausted.

In the aftermath of the election I have mixed feelings about the implications for state education and Brighouse High School in particular. I have three, relatively modest, wishes for the future which may be worth sharing in the hope that some of our newly elected or re-elected MPs and councillors are reading this.

My first wish is that schools, school leaders and especially teachers will be offered a period of stability and the chance to get on and do the job they have been trained to do, to put the children and their learning first and to be able to leave league tables and political manouvering out of the classroom. The retention of the previous Secretary of State with her more balanced and less hasty approach than her predecessor gives me some hope that this might happen.

My second wish is that consideration will be given to providing an inflation matched increase in school budgets so that we can continue to fund realistic levels of staffing and maintain the focus on improving standards for all.

My third wish relates to capital and the fabric of educational establishments. For schools such as Brighouse High, where the building is of an age where repairs are constantly required, it is increasingly difficult on the minimal budget provided to be able to keep up with the building’s demands. My wish would be that someone in Parliament can see that providing a high quality learning environment is essential and ignoring the minor repairs that are required now will lead to major work being needed in future.

A sensible, nationally led and priority driven capital plan for education is therefore a must.