On Thursday last, 19th June 2014, St Bede’s College in Manchester unofficially announced the appointment of their new head teacher, Mr Richard Robson who is the Deputy Head of St Joseph’s College in Reading. Mr Robson was appointed to that post in 2011 after a teaching job in Basingstoke. I understand is subject is drama and that he had trained at the Old Vic amongst other places.
St Joseph’s College in Reading has a similar profile as St Bede’s but is a much smaller independent school with only 256 pupils in the age group 11 – 18, roughly 66% girls and 33% boys It has the same supposedly Catholic ethos has Bede’s, how that attracts would be parents I do not know because as we know Tony Blair is a Catholic and so was Tommy Duggan and it says the present head is a practising Christian whatever that means. Let us just say that Joseph’s ethos is probably a little less severe than Bede’s. About 33% of its pupils are Catholics but there were never many left footers down south any way. They brazenly boast that their alumni include Miss Marion Faithfull and Miss Alma Cogan. Two very pretty women but hardly anything to boast about.
St Joseph’s was a girls convent school until 2010 when it became co-educational so in the last four years it has gone through a series of great changes. All its management team have been appointed in the last three years and although in that time its results in public examination declined it seems last year there was a slight improvement. Let us hope they might have turned the corner.
Their latest ISI report says that the pupils are above average intelligence and the quality of teaching is described as good with no safeguarding issues. It seems a nice run of the mill school with nice staff and nice pupils all being very nice to each other but Reading has always been noted for its niceness.
So everything looks good for Mr Richard Robson, who from the sound of his name must have had historic root in the North East of England where the ractising Catholics are known to be rugged and fair but take no prisoners. I wish him well because by gad he will need all the luck that can be doled out. I really do hope he is going into this job with his eyes well and truly open and I do hope the staff rally round him but I have fears about present senior management. They bring an awful amount to the table that should not be there and hopefully this problem will be looked at first.
Mr Robson’s talents it seems stems from the stage and this grounding should have given him overflowing confidence which hopefully he can cascade down to his staff who have been woefully treated these last few years. I really do hope that he is the man for the job and I really do hope he succeeds. But what a job he has and it would be lovely to see whether his wise words will achieve anything with regard to chopping the dead wood at governor level but with Brain in charge it’s doubtful.
So I am upbeat and positive and long may it be that way after the debacle that has been Bede’s for the last few years. However there are questions still to be asked but I doubt whether they will ever be answered. How is it that such a senior position was able to be filled so quickly? All done and dusted in a matter of weeks. Surely this process must take longer just on a matter of notice alone, heads cannot be picked off a tree like apples, due process would normally mean a year between advertising and choosing and certainly this legerdemain by Bede’s as come as a shock to St Joseph’s who at this moment are only looking to fill the post of a Mathematics teacher.
Unless of course that it was known that kenless Kearney was a goner in January and that the scrawny arm of the Salford Diocese had started reaching out and fumbling with peoples lives six months ago when questions were asked and a few markers were called in because this how Bishops do business in the clerical world, furtively moving people around. With one eye on the criticism that was levied after Kearney’s putsch in 2011 where no due process took place, it must have been decided that something reasonable had to be seen to have happened and therefore this sham of advertising, interviewing and selection was put out. I wonder who applied? Was there many candidates? We shall never know but surely the parents are owed something.
So with that dirty cloud hanging over the appointment I would just like to welcome Mr Robson into the real world of Manchester and Salford education, a million miles away from the niceness of Reading. This arena is where you sink or learn to swim very quickly, it might have been an idea for somebody to ride shotgun for him to watch his rear for sidewinders and backstabbers, they abound in leafy Whalley Range.
Let him think big, let him tread the boards like all the good actors knowing all the time that nothing is real, nothing is at all like what it says on the can. He has my utmost support. My artillery is trained on the governors of St Bede’s of which there is nearly as many as pupils at St Joseph’s College in Reading.