Sunday, 18 February 2007

The Daily Mail and Sausages

Shoot out in Hackney.

It’s been an eventful weekend so far in Hackney. Five minutes away from where I live, on Homerton High Street there was a shoot out between gangs, which resulted in a twenty eight old man being shot dead. This occurred in the wee small hours of Saturday morning. A significant amount of Homerton High Street remained cordoned off for much of yesterday.

One of my students is what we refer to in the office as a proper ‘G’ – gangster. He wears a knife vest. One day two hooded teenagers turned up and waited for him, outside the main entrance of the school. They were both brandishing knives and hammers. This is fact, not fiction.

Jools Pipe cheated Hackney Kids.

Last year I worked at the only boys’ school in Hackney which Jools Pipe had the audacity to close down. The school itself is a prime piece of real estate and could make the council a cool 50 million. The way the Learning Trust (that’s the private company that run the local education authority) treated the parents is disgusting. Firstly, there was never any proper consultation with parents. The Learning Trust told the feeder primary schools that Homerton was no longer viable option, as it was due to close, when in fact the decision to close the school had not even been agreed. During lessons boys would be asked to leave their desks and made to have an interview with an advisor from the Learning Trust, who would then tell them that the school will be closing, and that they would have to find an alternative school. These interviews had a major impact on the boys' behaviour and attainment.

On top of this there were four sets of senior management teams, in four years. Two of the sets of senior management teams were consultants from the Learning Trust, employed specifically to close the school down. They did many other manipulative things and it would just take too long to list them all, basically they were bullies. I did manage to confront Jools Pipe about it at a Town Hall function last summer. I was invited by a Conservative councillor as a way of saying thank you for all of the canvassing I had done. My conversation with Jools Pipe began politely and then he just got really stroppy, so I just called him a liar, and then in the end he told me to ‘F-Off!’ Nice work Jools. I reminded him that I am a member of the public and that it was totally inappropriate for him to speak to me like this.

Okay, the exam results were poor, but there was so much instability perpetuated by the Learning Trust that it was inevitable that this would affect student and staff morale. I am very upset that they closed this school down and what really makes me mad is the underhand tactics they used to achieve their goal. It could have been a really, really successful school.

Ironically, there is a shortage of school places in Hackney, and all of the boys from my previous school were sent out of the borough, to schools in Tower Hamlets. There was article, last summer about it in the Hackney Gazette, stating that the Homerton boys were being threatened with knives and knuckle dusters in the playground. Basically, kids in the East End are territorial and if you’re from a different borough you’re in deep trouble. The teachers told the Learning Trust that this would happen, but they did not care. Surely, the local education authority has a statutory duty to educate these kids. If I was a millionaires I would take Jools Pipe to court, but I am not. I did however take this issue to Westminster where I met a very helpful Conservative MP, who I am not going to name. He was supportive and sympathetic but that was about it. Basically, by that stage it was too late.

‘Lock Up the Homeless’ by John Bird

I had breakfast this morning in Café Bohemia in Hackney. The sausages were a bit off, but I’ve got a strong stomach. Obviously, I only had one mouthful. I should really have spat it out, but I didn’t. I didn’t make it to Stoke Newington, as I usually do on a Sunday. Anyway, I bought the Daily Mail (which is a TABLOID – BROADSHEETS ARE TOO BIG AND I HAVE SMALL HANDS). I found a very interesting article written by John Bird the founder of ‘The Big Issue’, and I have to say I agree entirely with what he is saying. It’s no good patching these people up and giving them houses. What they need is treatment for their addictions because most of the British Homeless are in fact addicts (sorry stating the obvious). He also states that addiction is not covered under the remit of the 1983 Mental Health Act. So, basically it’s not recognised as being a mental health issue which of course it is. It really is worth reading as he states that millions of pounds are wasted every year on just patching these people up. They need treatment first and foremost.

A close friend of mine is a chronic alcoholic; he is a nurse who has recently been suspended from nursing (thank God). His drinking has become so extreme that I just didn’t know what to do with him. So, the first thing I did was contact his parents and I was shocked to find out that their son has been drinking heavily since he was a teenager. At one point he was homeless and contracted pneumonia. When they found him he was so ill in fact that he had to be given a heart transplant. His parents’ attitude towards me was one of apathy. They have basically given up on him and could offer me no support or advice. His health and his behaviour have recently been spiralling out of control. I won’t go into specifics. I then decided to seek advice from the Mental Health Team at Homerton Hospital. They could offer him no treatment at all, unless he admits that he has a problem, and states that he wants help. It astonishes me but my friend is in complete denial about his problem. And, when I try and talk to him about it, he becomes abusive. The reality is he’s just going to drink himself to death. The only other advice they gave me was to call the police and they could section him. I am sorry but I just don’t feel comfortable phoning the police. It’s an ethical dilemma; by calling the police does this criminalise him? I don’t know. So, what can I do? I feed him and I check up on him daily, and that’s the extent of it.

Anyway, it’s half-term now, but I am still going to go in as I have a mountain of paperwork to climb.

God Bless.


The Hitch said...

These sort of things happened at my school, let me qualify that by saying that I am a 43 year old (well preserved) white ex public schoolboy , You wouldnt belive some of the brutality that went on.
A friend of mine who attended a midlands boarding school had his arm broken with a cricket bat for blackmailing the boys who raided the staff bar.
Boys will be Boys , although we didnt shoot each other with anything more powerful and an airgun.

Darkersideofbridgetjones said...

H, I agree with your comments, boys will be boys, and they do always seem to turn every drama activity into a fight of some sort, usually involving guns, or weapons of mass destruction. Whereas the girls show a lot more restraint in what they do. But, then the girls are eight months more mature than the boys, so I believe.

When I was at school in the eighties there were some violent incidents, not many and on reflection they were a great deal milder than what I currently experience in Hackney. But, then I did go to an all girls’ school in a reasonably middle class area. At my current school it seems to be constant and relentless - a war of attrition. They’re just so much hostility towards the learning environment.

Off to Stokey now, didn’t make it into school today, but I will tomorrow. Meeting the chairman of the Tottenham Tories, Justin Hinchcliffe for lunch.