With all the comings and goings at St Bede’s College in Manchester lately poor Mrs Sandra Pike dopes not know where she is or what she is. In one part of the St Bede’s website she seems not to have relinquished her tight grip on the school because on the staff roll she still clings to the title of Acting Head but in another part she has tactfully handed back her powers and classes herself as senior deputy head(in small case). But no matter her title, let us hope she is looking forward to meeting her new boss whether he starts in September or January and let us hope she steers the ship over the next while, with all the assurance she has shown in recent months. She’s my gal is Sandra.
Talking of the website I noticed a remarkable bit of news. It seems the governors, the recently formed new group consisting of some old faces and some relatively new including my good chum Helen West, who from her recent history, must have appeared a dead cert for the job by whoever picks these people, have regained their confidence. They have put a notice up in the News section of the website. It says “the Governors of the School would like to invite parents (Prep and College) to an informal update meeting on Wednesday 2nd July at 6.00pm. A hugh amount of progress has been made during this academic year and the governors would like to recap on our many successes and set the score for a strong and successful future for St Bede’s.”
Well I would never have thought they would have had the gall to be that confident, most of them have just stepped into the job, so talking about “progress” and “successes” is a little premature even for such an august body of broken down priests and celebrity professionals.
Can I just run through the academic year quickly and pick out the highlights.
September 2013 back to school, not many governors in sight most having resigned some months previously. Poor external examination results that put the school on a par with the decent comprehensive schools in the area.
December 2013 school in disarray with the Independent Schools Inspectorate crawling all over the place and asking questions that no decent body of gentlemen and gentlewomen should ask of a good Catholic School. These bounders found everything to be fair dinkum except for the management and governance of the school and the fact that the safeguarding methods employed by this same management and governance was pathetically poor.
January 2014 at the post mortem on said ISI report the headmaster, Daniel Kearney, of the same good Catholic School threw his dummy out of the pram, went home and started sulking, leaving the school in disarray for the second month in a row. Mrs Sandra Pike is asked to steady ship, she agrees and tries to steer into calmer waters. A steady calming hand in a crisis is Sandra.
February 2014 Monsignor Quinlan realising the School was in disarray decided to quit, offering every excuse there was but the right one, thus leaving the school in disarray for the third month on the trot. One of the old gang Flash Moynihan put uncertainly into place saying I am only doing this for a week or two, thus pulling the month of March into disarray as well. New chair of Governors put in place, another flaming cleric. When will Bede’s be rid of this accursed clericalism.
March, April and May 2014 urgent discussions taking place at Board level while Kearney still sulking at home and considering his position. The Football League Managers Association consulted and it was agreed that Danny Boy would leave his present position as long as he was paid 75% of his remaining contract. The Bishop who was well hipped after drawing in monies from various secret funds, some of it said to be tax sensitive, happily paid Danny off and gave a few extra bob as luck money. He put the rest into another secret fund to pay off the oncoming horde in the clerical abuse cases about to burst.
June 2014 The way is now clear for a little bit of routine Catholic legerdemain how to turn a years due process into twenty odd days of undercover trickiness. The calling in of a few markers and hey presto, one spanking new head. Certainly the Salford Diocese know how to turn the wheel when they want speedy progress. An actor struts proudly onto the stage ready to say his lines. He can do no worse than the last man so lets give him a chance.
July 2014 Not yet here but doubts about Richard Robson’s availibility, possibly not around until January. Good old Sandra is being searched for, can she play the holding role once more. Sandra is a good old sport, I’m sure she will.
Well if all that is “progress” and a compilation of “successes” I would not like to see failure. So I would ask all parents who read this blog to tell other parents who aren’t as able and for you all to get down to this “informal update meeting” a week tomorrow and do not listen to any old blarney from this apprentice bunch of governors. Ask the hard questions, do not be sullied by their PR blather. Why was the post mortem on the report so badly handled? Did Kearney and Quinlan jump or were they pushed? Do we need so many clerics on the Board when the School got rid of most teaching clerics 30 years ago? Has there been any improvement in Safeguarding since January? How on earth did they uncover a suitable headmaster in just over three weeks when the process normally takes a year? Are there still some massive methodology problems at the School? Why has there been so many changes of governors over the last few years? Please, oh please do not listen to any old bull.
And one final request; please let me know how it all panned out, I will be in Manchester at the time but security will be that strict I might not even get onto Alexandra Road.