St. Bede’s College, Manchester – Down The Creek – Up The Tub.

Since June 2011 I have been saying that because of the uncomfortably undue haste with which the previous headmaster at St Bede’s College in Manchester was relieved of his responsibilities at the school and with the arrival of the inadequate Mr Daniel Kearney, appearing over the hill like the US cavalry with all guns blazing and bugles blowing, beating out the rhythm of old time discipline for all and it being the only answer to 21st century liberation in education, I have realised that there is something drastically wrong with the foundation of the school and the retrogressive moves with regard to its management.  There is also something seriously wrong with my opening 102 word sentence but I had no way of shortening it.

Under Byrne, with his hard work but jaundiced eye, the school had built itself up into an establishment of prominence.  A place where, although abuse occurred, a tight lid was kept on it and where eventually nearly all clerics were weeded out and where the lay staff enjoyed year after year of increasingly better results.

For most staff it was undoubtedly a place to work and enjoy working.  This ethos continued under Michael Barber, with a slight blip in 2010 which was soon corrected in 2011 but unfortunately he had been shown the door during the exams.  The staff however still retained that belief in themselves and their abilities to march on improving or at least stay on par with the previous year.

So then came Kearney with his Opus Dei righteousness suggesting a form of religion and discipline that was 100 years out of date.  He was ably backed by the nodders who make up the Board of Governors and the scheming chairman, Monsignor Michael Quinlan, who with nothing to do in his front row parish of St Winifred’s in Heaton Mersey decided to interfere at Bede’s, backed up by his acolyte, the now defunct Fr Timothy Hopkins.  In a play that I have just written about St Bede’s in the 1950s and 60s, I say that when you bring up discipline into a first line form of control, you diminish authority.  But there was Kearney spouting it in the first few sentences in his address to parents from the new head.  He had lost the plot in the first few weeks.

The Quinlan, Kearney, Hopkins triumvirate were like a team of saboteurs that had been wired up wrong.  Whatever did not need fixing, they fixed.  The staff management system that had worked perfectly well for years was now discarded, now young inexperienced teachers, with a penchant for applauding Kearney every time he farted, were promoted and the tried and tested heads of department, were quickly winnowed out.

You could see how quickly Mr Kearney soon lost touch with the dressing room, to use a footballing parlance and you could soon see what all this managerial manoeuvring was all about.  A cost saving that was purely about cost cutting and no heed at all in what it would do to the quality of the product.  If these three had been in commercial management, they would have been removed quickly.  One thing you must not do if you intend to remain in a niche position in the market of education is to regress on quality, cut cost by all means but find other ways than dumbing down the end product.

It became obvious immediately, when Quinlan and Kearney invited Mancini’s young Light Blues into the College and allowed the school to become a finishing establishment for young footballers, a craft well known for its lack of academic vigour.  It was all about money and nothing else mattered but they still gathered in the hard earned bucks of captive parents who had no choice but to keep paying for this diluted quality that they had not signed up to.

Mr Kearney , in a year, with his grossness of management had knocked the school back 30 years in academic achievement.  The staff, once excellent, had lost their appetite of going that extra mile for pupils to stretch themselves and at this level pupils need stretching.  They just sat the year out, mumbled and moaned and did nothing, because basically they are not that type of person.  When it comes to rocking the boat, teachers as a breed, might as well stay on dry land.  They do not know how, they have not got it in them to say “Fuck off” when imbecility happens above them.  Look at Duggan’s antics in the 1950s and 60s, he was allowed to do as he pleased, the staff just watched, perhaps in amazement, but just watched.  There was only one or two men in my 60 year experience of the school who had the nerve to say that, they were not backed up by others and were quickly removed.

To show how badly the school has performed under Kearney et al, this week Performance Tables issued by the Department of Education were issued for last summers public examinations.  These tables were sent to me by a disgruntled teacher who can see that St Bede’s College is on the road to perdition, unless something extraordinary is not done.  Sacking Daniel Kearney and that shrew of an assistant, Sandra Pyke, might be a start but that will not happen under this Catholic fundamentalism that has raised its head.

Go here  to look at St Bede’s performance.

The important line is the results for A*- C grades this year under “Year on year comparisons” and you will notice a 12% drop in performance.  This drop from 91% to 79% brings it into line with good non fee paying local authority schools and not at all in line with the top knotch independent schools where it had been.  Parents might now be asking why fork out the spondulicks when the quality ain’t there.  Definitely St Bede’s has been dumbed down to save cost and to allow in Mancini’s unfortunates.  To keep to footballing parlance, its like a Premier League side after being relegated into the First Division, parting with their best players and cutting wages.  It is easier to live in the First or even Second division, the club will get by and it is not that hard work is needed.  Why stretch yourself, why go that extra mile, fuck the parents and the pupils for that matter.

13 thoughts on “St. Bede’s College, Manchester – Down The Creek – Up The Tub.

  1. Now, my dear Paul, I’ve chastised you previously for a lack of respect, to say nothing of reverence, towards THE CHAMPIONS. The link with them is the greatest honour bestowed on the College in its existence.

  2. Well, it’s nice to know at least Bedes will probably end up with a great football team, but I don’t think that’s what most parents coughing up around £9K a year expected when they sent their children there to be educated.

    A little tongue-in-cheek comment from Mr Merrin I feel, nevertheless I don’t think he would argue with Paul’s main point. To use the football analogy again, Bedes has not been for a long time anywhere near the top of the Premier League for fee-paying schools, in fact probably not even in that division at all. It ranked somewhere in mid-table (which is not broken up into divisions), way behind (the last time I looked) Manchester Grammar Schools (both boys and girls) and even my local fee-payer, Bury Grammar (again boys and girls).

    If the product isn’t worth the money, people will simply stop buying it. The situation as regards academic prowess will almost certainly need to be rectified by again, a football analogy – a new manager. Where are the Board of Directors to give the man the dreaded ‘Vote of Confidence’ when you need them?

    Remember though, this is a game of two halves. Unfortunately for Mr Kearney, he’s 4-0 down and time is running out. Relegation beckons, I predict, for both Head and College unless action is taken swiftly.

    Reading the above, I must honestly say I’m ass sick as a parrot for the College, but not the Head.

    Please feel free in comments to add any further cliches.

  3. I recall, from a few years back, a parent telling me a little story about Sandra Pyke.
    Having hit upon hard times, an appointment was made to visit Kearney to discuss the situation of finance for a pupil. Expecting a sympathetic ear from the newly appointed head, imagine their horror when told that Kearney was not available and that they would be seeing Pyke.
    Having made the long journey the disappointed parents continued, somewhat reluctantly, with the meeting. As they feared they got little in the was of assistance or sympathy and were sent on their merry way with the consoling advice of ”Don’t worry you have still got your health”. A far cry from the days when Mr Byrne would bend over backwards to assist parents. And if he couldn’t he would at least offer a sympathetic ear.

    I am afraid to say that Sandra Pyke makes Cruella De Vil look like Mother Theresa.

  4. Hi Paul Where can I read your play? Wasn’t Mike Harding also writing something about Bedes? What about us all collaborating on a series for television? I am sure it would make for compelling viewing. “Cumberbund Gap – the real truth”!!!

  5. Dear Mr Malpas,

    I am left completely open – mouthed that anyone would dedicate so much time and energy to write such a blog full of hate and spite. You are both very sad and quite sick. I suggest a good psychiatrist. You need help.

    Yours concerned for you,

    Harry Stubbs

    1. I am sorry that I upset you Harry but my views are the views of many and neither hate or spite are involved. Concern and sadness are probably the words nearest the mark.
      Paul Malpas

  6. Well Paul, you’ve hit a raw nerve again. Is Mr Stubbs an Old Bedian of the TD Reign of Terror 1950-1966 era? Or even 1973-1990, Billy Green’s era? If not, what’s his point?

    I get tired of telling people my issue isn’t with the school, it’s the fact that people are in denial of what actually happened, because they themselves weren’t affected.

    As regards the College’s current predicament, it’s been self-inflicted, not coming clean reagarding two serial abusers in the periods from 1950/1966 and 1973/1990. This indicates a systemic problem in the way the College was run, as they claim either to know nothing about it,or worse still, did know about it and did nothing.

    Look at the current hammering the BBC are getting over Jimmy Savile, where people simply don’t believe that the senior staff at the BBC didn’t know what was going on. The two situations are to at least some degree similar. The big difference is that they’re at least looking into Savile’s conduct. From Bedes – nearly two years on from the MEN’s headline re TD – nothing. Still in denial. Bring on the lawyers.

    1. Paul,
      Certainly Mr Stubbs does not seem to have attended Bede’s between the years 1954-1979, I have the register and I cannot see his name.
      In para 2 you talk about two serial abusers, my research and detailed witness accounts suggest differently. There is a definite systemic problem and has been for over 60 years. In fact we have it on tape from the senior child protection officer at the time, that the priests of the Salford Diocese have known about it for at least the 30 years this man has been a priest.

  7. Paul,

    I take issue with much of what you say. However, each to his own opinion etc. One thing that I must mention is your focus on league tables. To suggest that Mr Kearney is to blame for a poor set of exam results is shortsighted. Even a very poor head couldn’t effect such a startling drop in standards in such a short space of time.

    Exam results are built during a pupil’s 5-7 years at the College. The blame lies more at the door of Mr Barber than Kearney. Whatever your thoughts on his approach to the job, blaming summer 2012 exam results on his first year in charge is misleading and unfair.

    Any chance of balance?

  8. Bit of a point to make here. Barber was Queso Grande/Grand Fromage (just displaying my linguistic skills here, humour me a little) for less than 3 years, before that was Mr Brine (sic), so perhaps he should be shouldering some of the blame for poor results also?

    Otherwise, it’s a bit soon to tell if the College is going downhill, but the current results are about as welcome as rabies in a Guide Dogs’ home…

  9. Ah Paul, I see yet another spelling mistake! Oh the shock! The horror! St Bede’s deputy head is called Mrs Pike. Not Mrs Pyke. Trivial as thought it may seem, it in fact shows your lack of knowledge of the school which to be honest was shown in your fictional accusations made in many of your posts.

    1. Isabella, I’m sorry once again, I have made that mistake before but I think she looks better with a Y it more reasonably describes her being. Again, as with your other comment, you seem to miss my point. Things are happening at the school that deserve the parents attention. They are the pipers, you lot should be dancing to their tune.

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