Teacher Talk

Angela Piddock is the head teacher of Wilberforce Primary School in Westminster, London. Of the 415 pupils attending the school, 215 are eligible for free school meals. For 367 children, English is their second language
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The Independent Online

What do you think of the White Paper on schools?

Most parents I talk to want good comprehensives near home and not a hotchpotch of establishments peddling the flavours of the month. I can't understand why the Government should be so keen to hand over money and control of children's education to people who may have their own axe to grind. It's money that should be going to improving inner-city comprehensives. I know some country comprehensives, and they're very good. We don't need to waste time and money playing around with other models.

Do you believe that parents should play a bigger role in schools? Should they be able to set up their own schools?

In principle, yes; but the parents of most of my pupils have more than enough on their plates just surviving and trying to keep a decent home together. It was different at my son's primary school where there were enough educated parents to take an active part in formulating school policies and monitoring them. In the absence of that kind of parent base it would be all too easy for a small determined group to impose their own extreme agenda - religious, moral, or simply socially regressive - on a governing body.

Are you in favour of companies funding and influencing the running of some schools?

It would be criminal folly if the Government were to allow intruders to squeeze out the national curriculum. Whatever you think of the Tories' other educational policies, the introduction of a basic curriculum entitlement for all was a historic advance.

What would be the impact of the Government's measures on Wilberforce Primary School, particularly on year-six pupils?

The reforms would be intolerably confusing for pupils and parents alike. Most of the parents here want their children to go to a local school with their friends. It's really important that all children from an area go to the same local secondary school. Northern Ireland should have taught us the importance of children of all faiths and none being educated together

Are you happy with the present system?

The system works, on the whole. I am interested in the idea of reintroducing banding under which all schools get a similar share of the children in each ability range. It does a great deal to ensure that schools are truly comprehensive.

Email: education@independent.co.uk