11-year-olds at a Barnsley Council comprehensive called the Shafton Advanced Learning Centre have been given worksheets asking them to grade swear words.
The school opened last year as a result of the merging of two other secondary schools – Priory School and Sports College, and Willowgarth High School. Both these schools were on a list of schools with the worst GCSE results in the country. So there should have been an opportunity for a fresh start – with a new head and a sponsored academy. Yet Bernadette O'Brien, who was the headteacher of the Priory, was made the head of the new school and it is a maintained school under Barnsley Council's empire.
We can't blame Michael Gove for this. The plans were in place before the General Election. But I hope that we will see the "Shafton Advanced Learning Centre" with a new name and new management as soon as possible.
I also hope that a proposal which has been put forward for a Christian free school progresses. It comes from the Barnsley Hope House School. At present it is an independent school – with fees which vary by age but around £300 a month. This means that the spending per pupil is just over half what is spent by the taxpayer on Barnsley Council's schools – around £6,000 a year. At the Priory it is in the order of £7,000. But the percentage of pupils getting five good GCSEs at the Priory has been in the order of 35% – at Barnsley Hope High School it is 100%.