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Controversial Former Headteacher Works With Shafton ALC

Tuesday March 12 2013


Charlotte Blencowe has been working with staff at Shafton ALC Charlotte Blencowe has been working with staff at Shafton ALC


A FORMER headteacher known for her strict and controversial initiatives has been working with staff at Shafton ALC.

Charlotte Blencowe - known for her no-nonsense approach including searching pupils' bags and once-a-week toilet passes - is employed by Academies Enterprise Trust, the firm which will sponsor the school when it becomes an academy later this year.

The news comes just a week after Ofsted gave the school a negative report. You can read about that here.

Miss Blencowe made headlines last year when, as headteacher at Castle Vale Performing Arts College in Birmingham, she introduced a series of unusual initiatives, including a 'tinkle pass' - a card issued to pupils which only allowed them to leave class to use the toilet once a week.

Pupils at Castle Vale were also not allowed to speak at all during lessons unless answering a question and had to communicate with teachers using a series of hand signals.

The school's current headteacher, Bernadette O'Brien, is off sick. A spokesman for AET confirmed there were no plans for Miss Blencowe to take over the running of the school.

Cllr Tim Cheetham confirmed no plans were in place to replace the current headteacher and added the local authority is working with staff to improve morale at the school.

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Reply Posted by sharon on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 11:05
my stepson attends this school and if he misbehaves is allowed to choose his lessons how that is education beggars belief

Reply Posted by Barry Smith on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 11:07
Nice of parent to be told of this. She will fit in nicely to the prison camp that the present Head has introduced there. Thing this is going to cause even more trouble.

Reply Posted by Barry Smith on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 11:08
Sorry it should say "Think" this is going to cause even more trouble"

Reply Posted by observer on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 11:11
how things have changed at school?,i beleived kids couldnt speak when the teacher was teaching anyhow?..we had to put a hand up. if we needed the teachers attention. im not sure how the tinkle pass is going to work. how can they expect someone to go a full week without visiting a loo.

Reply Posted by Better observer on Sunday March 17 2013 at 18:27
What? I don't think you're quite getting that - the pass means they can only leave lessons for the loo. They can go in between lessons. Surely it's to encourage time management and respect.

Reply Posted by Lou on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 11:16
I wonder If she will only be allowed to
Use the toilet once a week!!! My son has kidney problems & it's important he uses the toilet regularly as n when needed!! If my son ends up in hospital I will be holding her responsible !!!!

Reply Posted by sharon on Friday March 15 2013 at 16:09
i am sure if he has a medical problem there will be an exception to the rule ...she will be there to bring the school round not cause harm

Reply Posted by Julie smith on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 11:25
I winder if she will be getting help from her partners father Barry Elliott aka (Barry chuckle brothers) or will buck be past to me to you....

Reply Posted by Barry Smith on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 11:36
It does seem she only lasted 5 month at Birmingham and then has left. I think Barnsley Council needs to explain to us parents what is going off.

Reply Posted by lynsey on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 11:36
My daughter has a toilet pass now and suffers kidney probs also, she needs to go more than once a week !! Can see me havin words !!!

Reply Posted by grace wake on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 11:38
Consent Withdrawn For Chuckle Brother ‘Phantom’ Free School

Published in the Yorkshire Post on Saturday 25 February 2012

A CONTROVERSIAL plan for a free school backed by a Chuckle Brother has had its Government approval to open this year withdrawn.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has removed his department’s backing for the Rotherham Central Free School amid claims that it had no teachers, pupils or buildings in place despite being set to open in less than eight months time.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it had been cancelled because it was not “progressing sufficiently”.

Now Rotherham MP Denis MacShane is demanding to know “how much tax-payers money has been wasted on this phantom project”.

The plan for the Rotherham Central Free School was launched in 2010 by Charlotte Blencowe, a teacher and former Conservative Party candidate from the town.

She enlisted Barry Elliott, better known as one half of the Chuckle Brothers, to be its patron.

Three months ago it was one of 79 planned free schools which were hailed as “pioneers in education” by the Government and given initial approval to open in September 2012. But it emerged yesterday that its backing has now been withdrawn.

A Yorkshire Post investigation earlier this month revealed that the school had no confirmed site, staff or pupils and Rotherham Council was unaware of what consultation had been done.

Free schools are a key reform of the Government which is supporting the creation of new state funded schools set up by parents, teachers or existing schools.

Rotherham Central was part of the second wave of free schools accepted by the Government using “more rigorous” criteria.

Bidders were asked to produce detailed reports demonstrating parental demand and evidence of their “capacity and capability”.

Mr MacShane and Rotherham Council’s portfolio holder for lifelong learning Amy Rushforth have questioned how the Rotherham Central Free School was able to get through this stage. Mr MacShane said: “It was clear from the very outset that the proposal for Rotherham Central Free School was an ideological fantasy promoted by Conservative Party activists without any support from parents or the teaching community in Rotherham.

“Mr Gove refused over a number of months to reveal the names of parents or any other supporters of his pet scheme.

“It has no premises, no pupils, no teachers, and the front person for the scheme lives and works in Sunderland.”

Last night Miss Blencowe said the DfE understood that changes to her personal circumstances had meant that opening a new school within a year had proved too great a challenge.

She now works as principal of an academy in Sunderland. She added: “I remain passionate about the need to improve educational standards in my home town of Rotherham, and fully expect to revisit the opportunity to improve the life chances of young people within the area at a later point in my career.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Opening a free school is not easy and all proposers deserve credit for the hard work that they put in at every stage of the process.

“Our priority has to be to open schools where educational provision will be strong, and where this represents the best use of public funds. In this case, we judged that the plans were not progressing sufficiently for this school to continue to the next stage. The aim of the free schools programme is to give parents more choice, and to drive up standards.”

She said the DfE looked forward to getting more free school applications from the Rotherham area.

Reply Posted by Jacqui Brook on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 11:42
I have a relative who teaches at a school in the Barnsley area who came home in years because she had been sworn at by a pupil who was very abusive and told if she did anything he would knock her out! This was a junior school child! I did not see this sort of behaviour when I was at school in the 60's why? Because we were scared we would get the cane! Children are no longer disciplined in school or at home! Parenting should be on the school curriculum then maybe future generations may grow up to be respectable human beings!

Reply Posted by Michelle Darbyshire on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 14:02
I don't normally swear on here but this article bloody infuriates me. The main problem at the school is the standard of education and the focus up to now has been on standards of dress and behaviour. How in earth is more dictator leadership going to improve our kids education. Whose stupid idea was it to bring back the gestapo rather than focus on the standards of teaching because it certainly wasn't through consultation with parents. These are our kids, not the
schools and certainly not the governments.

Reply Posted by nan on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 14:54
i totally agree with disipline in schools but i can tell you this no one would stop my kids going to the toilet if needed. when one of my kids was younger they had kidney problems and were told they couldnt go to the toilet, they ended up wetting themselves in front of a class of 11yr olds,i can tell you this after id finished with them when i went to pick my child up they never stopped them going to the toilet again.both my kids were told after that if you need to go to the toilet you go and i would deal with any issues the school had

Reply Posted by LV on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 18:37
I can see what people don't like about the ideas she had but when I was at school we weren't allowed to talk unless a constructive discussion was part of that lesson. From being 8 years old we weren't allowed to leave the class to go to the toilet unless there was a known medical need or letter from parents, we went to the toilet in our break times! If you let kids go to the toilet during lessons they just start messing about in the corridors or in the toilets, when I was at school a lot of people would go to the toilet during class so they could have a cig in the toilet knowing there aren't many teacher roaming the building. Strict teachers mean that the kids will be quiet in lessons and actually pay attention to what is being taught because there is nothing else to do: no phones to distract them and no friends talking to them.

When I was at school I would never dare speak to even other pupils the way that some children speak to their teachers!! It's disgusting considering I left school only 5 years ago!!!

The schools of Barnsley need a stricter staff body and this can only propose a start!!! Spare the rod, spoil the child!

Reply Posted by Barry Smith on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 19:05
This is what has caused the problems at Shafton ALC LV. The headteacher who has now joined the cultural of being off sick at the school, has been more interested in ruling the school with a rod of iron and has lost sight of the education.

No parent is against discipline or rules as long as they are sensible, but it has got out of hand at Shafton. Parent are not involved at all, infact we are not welcome. All we want is good education and for that we need a New Head, deputy head and new governing body and the governing body needs more parents on it then others, so we have a good say in what goes off.

Reply Posted by Susan on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 20:01
Get Mr Hudson the Head of Wickersley school and sports college to help out. He did a great job at Wombwell High school a couple of years ago. He's a top man worth his salary.

Reply Posted by Barry Smith on Tuesday March 12 2013 at 21:06
As parents we just want anyone who could do the job and work with parent and would do away with all the stupid rules which is ruining the school.

Reply Posted by kc on Wednesday March 13 2013 at 13:22
Why a child cannot go to the toilet in break times is beyond me, you go to the toilet before the lesson, and then sit and LEARN for just over an hour, how much must they be drinking to need to go again in this short time frame. Granted, if there is a medical reason then fair enough and this can be tackled with a simple letter from a DOCTOR comfirming this is the case and then they should be allowed to go.
I have been in lessons and seen the behaviour of children and quite frankly it completely put me off a career in teaching. The children have zero respect for any of the teachers and the teachers cannot discipline in an effective way because of this Nanny State that has taken all power from them to do so.
This lack of respect for teaching and authority is only further encouraged by parents who had a bad time at school who inflict their negative views onto their children. These stricter discipline techniques may not be liked by those with this negative attitude but they are prooven to work time and time again.
If I ever find out that my son is misbehaving in any way I am more than happy for whoever's care he is in at the time to discipline him and then I address my failings at home that have led him to believe it is OK to act in this way.
I know it is not easy being a parent but it is 100% the responsibility of the parent to ensure that their children respect others and behave well. When this fails, it is our failing not the childs and we need to work WITH the schools and teachers to be all signing off the same sheet.
When my son behaves well I take pride in the fact that it is because of how I have brought him up and the values I have taught him, the same applies when he behaves badly in that it is my teachings that have failed and all parents must take responsibility for this if we are to raise a future generation.
Children NEED and WANT rules, it is how they learn what is right and what is wrong. This starts from the day they are born and continues throughout childhood and into adulthood.

Reply Posted by nan on Wednesday March 13 2013 at 14:07
yes kc your right these kids should in general go to the toilet in break times but everyone at some time or another is cought out and needs to go i for one never got much of a warning that i needed to go and wasnt very good at holding it either if i hadnt been able to go when the need arose i would have wet myself on many occasions as a child,my kids were brought up with old school discipline and made to face up to anything they did out of order and were punished for it. but the one thing i told my kids was if you need the toilet you go.if i needed to go then as an adult i would not allow anyone to dictate to me when i could go so why should i allow it to happen to my kids. i also believe to get respect you have to give itand not all teachers show respect to these kids they are not in junior school these kids are going through a lot of physical and psychological changes,maybe a bit more patience may help,all these kids are separate individuals and as such need treating that way.

Reply Posted by cg on Friday March 15 2013 at 16:55
i totally agree with your comment that each child is different and has individual needs. But if you have a class of 30 who all or most decide they cannot wait till the next break how do you expect a teacher to be able to teach effectively. When i went to priory we were always discouraged to go in lesson but were allowed if really needed. if your got cought abusing this trust you wernt allowed again - we are not talking primary kids here they are young adults and need to take responsibility if they take the mick. Medical exemptions will always be allowed when supported with medical evidence - not self diagnosis, which i think is a fair system

the focus needs to be on are the kids learning if not why not. Behavior in the school is clearly a major issue despite it being a prison. if staff cannot control the kids how can we expect them to learn. but if pupils can threaten and be abusive to staff without consequence how can they teach - its a vicious circle.

It does seem like these new SUPER schools are not very super at the min

Reply Posted by jonno D on Friday March 15 2013 at 18:48
A piddle pass .When you gotto go you gotto go.Should have a look at the Smokers group that assemble at 3pm on the roundabout.The problem with this school is in my opinion the one who has signed off sick,wonder if she has a note.

Reply Posted by Faye on Saturday March 16 2013 at 01:37
Perhaps the parents expressing concern ought to actually make contact with the school to find out the current situation in terms of Ms Blencowe and the current leadership of the school. Additionally, if parents are not happy with Shafton ALC, may I suggest you enrol your children at a different school?

The negative press that educational establishments in Barnsley receives never fails to amaze me. The local "rag" and avid letter writers/online "moaners" should think about the effect that their comments have on the students that attend these schools. Some students in this borough have low aspirations and a variety of other complex issues, may I suggest that, before you post your ill informed comments and articles, you spare a thought for the students that have to read such negative remarks.

Reply Posted by Ray on Saturday March 16 2013 at 08:37
The trouble is there are too many negative parents feeding their kids the line that teachers are bad authority figures that should be challenged in a negative destructive way at every opportunity. Its like the Monty Python film 'Life of Brian' with the Romans.........now then what have teachers ever done for our children? Tried to help and guide them, educate, support and encourage them. Given them praise, opportunities, rewarded good behaviour, brought them back into line when they've strayed by reasoning and talking to them. YEAH that's right the teachers have never done anything for us have they?
There are too many parents who have no purpose in their own life , so they love nothing better than a chance to flex their muscles and rush up to school to challenge them if 'precious little jonny or mary' can't do this that or the other, then bleat how unfair life is. These are the same parents who aren't the slightest bit interested at home in developing their children into well balanced educated adults ready for the world of work, no boundaries at home, no support, do what you like when you like, parent skills of a tea bag!
You look at children in third world countries who are hungry for education and forever grateful for any scrap they get. Then compare to some children here, fed negative destructive rhetoric at home ,is it a total waste of money trying to educate these children when their family life is so poor of love support encouragment and ambition? It's heart breaking, children in our own country so very badly let down by parents who aren't fit for purpose.
I'm not a teacher but I have worked in schools for the past 5 years and it's a massive eye opener.
There are some absolute A+++ teachers, heads, support staff and in my experience these are the majority. However there are also certainly some weaker ones.
There are some fantastic parents, just quietly bringing up their children and doing a fantastic job. Some more vocal, actively getting involved in school life volunteering, etc.
Then you've got the negative, destructive ones who think school is 100% responsible for everything about their child and therefore absolving themselves of any responsibility and accountability.
Why have we got a sub culture of Jeremy Kyle type lazy lazy families in this country dragging us down? How did it get so bad? How do we stop it?
Depressing isn't it!

Reply Posted by nan on Saturday March 16 2013 at 11:16
i totally agree that the majority of responsibility lies with the parents for how these kids behave.they should never have done away with old school discipline but i am astounded at how many parents are actually afraid of their kids these days my kids wouldnt have dared speak to me the way kids do these days.and can i just add you could'nt pay me £200.000 a year to teach the kids of today,but there are good kids out there who are being punished for the bad ones

Reply Posted by Noname on Saturday March 16 2013 at 17:10
I think it would be a great idea for someone, be it the school a parent or even BMBC, to set up some kind of parents association for the school, to discuss all the concerns (in a polite and constructive manner). This would work wonders for the relationship between the community and the school. I think we need to get away from all the abuse that's ongoing against the Headteacher, especially the criticism I have seen on WAB concerning her current sick leave, if a she's sick then she's sick end of, none of knows whether it is to do with the pressures of the school or something more serious. Everyone, parents and teachers need to look at how we can turn things around including looking at how we as parents could change things also. Ive met Miss/mrs OBrian and personally think she comes across as a nice woman, firm but fair.

Reply Posted by Faye on Sunday March 17 2013 at 00:00
Ray....I could not agree more.

Reply Posted by Richard dye on Sunday March 17 2013 at 20:17
only postive thing about the school is that the equitment is up to standard. Rest of it is a bloody mess, car park is like a highway, the teachers are useful as goldfishes and have respect good as paper, the children are being taught badly and rebelling, Staff are always late on time to their lessons and all they are good at is giving bad skills to our kids.

A pee pass? Who on earth wants to wait 6 hours to go pee. Not a chance, if you need to pee then you go and pee, no teacher can stop you from going to the toilet because at the end of the day, you have to go.

Checking bags? That is out of order, if they try to check someone bags then they are allowed to do it back, it not a prision search to check em, padlock your bags kids because the teachers wants to check em.

This school is garbage.

Reply Posted by Diane on Sunday March 17 2013 at 20:25
I totally agree with most of these comments that I have read, although folk shouldn't tar everybody with the same brush. I agree that kids should be disciplined if badly behaved. To give respect, you should be shown it in return. My daughter WANTS to learn, she is not there to mess about, although she tells me there are those who do. I have brought her up the right way and she actually enjoys school, when taught right. I admit I was a little shit at school, but have now done a 360' and I am now studying to be a midwife. I have learnt from my mistakes and I don't want my daughter to copy them when I was at school. Instead I simply encourage her to work hard and gain as much as she possibly can from school and she is determined to concentrate and pass all of her GCSE's with flying colours as she has ambitions to be a vet. My daughter is rather sensitive and is not a trouble causer. She listens and respects others and would help anyone out if needed. I am 100% behind discipline, but I think restricting the student's rights for a loo break and searching bags is a step too far. Probably all of these kids have double lessons and have to go 2 hours before a toilet break. I think trust is an issue here, if kids abuse this trust as an excuse to leave class for any other reason than to use to the loo, then this should be dealt with accordingly. On the other hand there must be a reason why ofsted has given this school a poor rating. It cannot be solely on bad behaviour? I think the school, staff, parents and governors should work together, listen to everyone's views to bring this school up to standard, without pointing the finger of blame at anyone in particular!

Reply Posted by Jon on Monday March 18 2013 at 15:59
I lived in Birmingham and can tell you that Castle Vale is pretty dire for somewhere to live. Having moved north, I hope Barnsley is no where near as bad and that parents have not sunk to their level (throwing eggs and stones at staff). I believe this Head teacher was trying to install some discipline at the school where staff had been on strike on numerous occasions in the previous academic year because of behaviour and lack of support for them from the previous management. It was all over the Birmingham Mail at the time. The community in Castle Vale are a law unto themselves, Im not surprised about a bag search, I'm sure many things were being brought to school that should not be. The school had been fenced in by this Head not only to keep the pupils in and safe, but to keep the undesirables out!
I wonder if pupils were constantly out of lessons "visiting" the toilet? Prior to the toilet pass thingy.
This doesn't say these rules are being introduced in Barnsley.
However, I do believe that to get a good school, behaviour has to be sorted to enable teachers to do their job. Pupils can't learn if they are not in class, gone to the toilet, or arrive late or there is constant disruptions and yes the teachers need respect but also have to earn the respect of the pupils.
Despite all the sensational publicity copied on here can we believe everything we read? Very one sided view. Go on Miss Blencowe do what you have to do to get this school sorted!!

Reply Posted by Bob Jenkins on Tuesday March 19 2013 at 14:03
I find that this school is enough of a prison then a bigger cow being added. I hate this school that I send my son to and I'm not supprised that we got inadequate. Shit Teachers.

Reply Posted by Bob Jenkins on Tuesday March 19 2013 at 14:04
I think that people should be able to go to the toilet when they want, Because females might be going through menstruation.

Reply Posted by Jon on Tuesday March 19 2013 at 15:45
These are young adults, and hopefully are being prepared for the rules out there in the real world! In many jobs you cannot just leave to go to the toilet, when ever you feel like it. Yes there are exceptions like medical and emergencies. Do you not think teachers go to the toilet or menstruate? what if they just left the class in the middle of teaching? Then you really would have a right to complain wouldn't you!

Reply Posted by ME on Monday April 29 2013 at 19:54
They do leave in lesson, I go there and about 5 of my teachers go to the toilet in lessons almost every week.

Reply Posted by ME on Monday April 29 2013 at 19:53
I go to Shafton A.L.C and I have to say, it is already shitty! I have a medical problem stopping me from wearing normal shoes, so I have to wear trainers. Took 4 lesson removes and 5 meetings with teachers for me to be allowed them. Searching bags? Good luck with that love! It is our own property, try and search out bags... yeah... not gonna happen one bit! Once a week toilet pass? Once again... won't last long, people already have trouble going at break and dinner... if you have to go you have to go. Hand signals in class? Once again.... no chance, only signals will be the two sign or the one sign, we have a right to talk! She can't take it away from us! She lasted 5 months at her other school... won't last long here. I see her around school, she sits in an office all day, gets paid a stupid wage for nothing, so far she has had no input with the rules yet, and with the senior management already taking a dislike to her, she won't at all. She walks around the school like she owns it.....
Good luck love, you are gonna need it! Hope you have a strong stomach!

Reply Posted by Sam on Saturday May 4 2013 at 17:55
Really? Sits in an office all day AND walks around school? Are you really at Shafton because MISS BLENCOWE HASN'T BEEN THERE SINCE MARCH!!

Reply Posted by Paul on Wednesday November 6 2013 at 11:04
I am really starting to think of moving my daughter from this school.Some of the stories she comes home with beggars belief. It sounds more like a WW2 prison camp than a school. Particularly when she complains to staff about constant bullying and is told basically to stop moaning and move schools if shes not happy!! She often comes home in tears and angry because of something a staff member has done, not done or said. And as for going to the toilet.... well that's a basic human right isn't it?? she once ended up wetting herself in class and then to top it all was chastised for it and made to clean it up herself in front of the whole class.. THAT IS NOT ON.. She has just been excluded because she had her phone taken from her and refused to hand over the battery and SIM card !! whats that all about? Sure, confiscate their phone if its warranted but what has the battery and SIM got to do with it. The information held on her SIM is private and everyone has a right to protect their privacy. Im sick to death of getting phone calls from school whilst i`m at work because of some bloody stupid and unbelievable petty problem that has arisen. Something I`m not at the time in a position to do anything about and is the responsibility of school anyway....Get a grip ALC

Reply Posted by Jon on Wednesday November 13 2013 at 13:22
Why don't you make an appointment with Ms Allott the Headteacher?