UPDATE - turns out the head who suspended her, Irene Bishop, was head at another school which Tony Blair used as the backdrop for announcing the 2001 elections. I'm not sure that means she's a 'Blairite', as some are saying.
(tbf, I can understand concerns when someone talks or blogs about identifiable children. I like to think that Snuffy's anecdotes are always suitably anonymised - certainly hope so)
Quite a character, isn't she? (and she'll be even more impressive if she can drop the aw-shucks grin when they applaud her. Stay stern, girl!). I like her description of the terrible shame she felt, as an ex-lefty, in voting Conservative for the first time.
The school she's just joined, St Michael and All Angels in Camberwell, not so very far from my old stamping grounds of twenty years back, is described thusly by Ofsted :
It is smaller than the average sized secondary school and serves an area of ethnic and cultural diversity with particularly high proportions of students from Black African and Black Caribbean heritages. There are many more boys than girls. The proportion of students known to be eligible for free school meals is higher than typically found. A much higher proportion of students than average have special educational needs and/or disabilities, most of whom are identified as having behavioural, emotional and social difficulties....
(on the rating of 'inadequate') ..
Nowhere is this more evident than in the inadequate behaviour of students both in class and around the academy. As the quality of teaching has improved, low-level disruption in class has reduced but a significant minority of students still exhibit very challenging behaviour. The governing body and the principal are rightly concerned about the increase in the number of serious incidents since January 2010...Now this kind of thing, as I recall, is just what drives Snuffy up the wall - because it wrecks the education of those who want to learn. IIRC, she blogged that one of her fellow interviewees for the job had been knocked over by the children in a corridor.
Behaviour is highly variable across the academy. Inspectors witnessed a significant number of instances of poor behaviour, which sometimes prevented effective learning from taking place. Poor behaviour occurs more frequently than it should and students show a lack of respect for staff and each other on too many occasions. As a result, the number of fixed term exclusions remains stubbornly high, particularly for physical assaults by students on other students, which have increased this year. Systems and procedures for rewarding good behaviour are not consistently applied and poor behaviour sometimes goes unchallenged.
At some point, Candidate 2 has his turn of the tour. When he is done, he comes crashing (quite literally) back into the room. He is all red in the face. 'What kind of ******* school is this?? The kids just knocked me down in the corridor! They have no respect for anything! And the school has no ******* systems!'
I think they're lucky to have her - her concern for the kids is obvious and I bet she's one of those rare inspirational teachers one reads about. Ofsted should accept that in some schools, a high level of exclusions may actually be a good thing, if it means those remaining can actually get taught. But it's not being consistent with the sanctions that's the killer.
Only one thing bothers me. Snuffy is 37, an Oxford graduate of IMHO Indo-Caribbean extraction. She's older than she blogs (I imagined a well-read 27 year old). She has no kids* (but has great hair).
Now it will be a goodly thing if, thanks to her, some black (and white) kids from poor families get 5 good GCSEs instead of one or two, if some stay on the rails instead of going off them, some end up with good degrees and fulfilling careers, or if she nurtures a Thomas Sowell.
But if that comes at the opportunity cost of a host of missing little Snuffettes, who could have carried that intelligence, compassion and humour onwards down the years, then I'm not sure society is getting the best of all possible deals. And I was saying something very similar at Dave Osler's just today (UPDATE - by strange chance, just a few days later the highly regarded Gene Expression blog said something very similar, only more learned and scientific - complete with the Idiocracy trailer link).
* total assumption on my part, based on the fact that she has never, ever, blogged about man or offspring. 'My kids' are always the class she's taking.