‘Sex, drugs, privilege,’ says study of Hackney school the much-hailed Mossbourne

Mossbourne Community Academy, Hackney Downs, London E8 © david.altheer@gmail.com

Mossbourne sign © DASTORIES OF drug-dealing, sex and privilege at Mossbourne, the leading Hackney secondary school, have been published by a prize-winning sociologist.

Mossbourne Community Academy, at which chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw made his mark as headmaster until he left in 2011, gave Christy Kulz of Goldsmiths College access to carry out research for a doctoral thesis.

In the paper Dr Kulz quotes a parent as claiming that middle-class white students deal marijuana at the school, which opened in 2004. A pupil says of a group of mostly white middle-class girls: “All they do is take drugs and have sex.”

A white middle-class parent is quoted saying “I certainly know that there is quite widespread use of spliff at Mossbourne, not at the school, but out of school.

“I think they sell it at the school and from what I am told – and this is hearsay – it is the white middle-class kids who are selling it”.

Teachers are said to get angry with black boys more quickly than with other pupils. Dr Kulz says it is a “phenomenon readily visible” that most students sitting outside teacher offices are “black boys”.

Mossbourne, she says in her summary, has become a “haven for Hackney’s middle classes… it actively seeks out those who already have [what] it requires to excel… middle-class parents can… secure preferential treatment and address the insecurities of class reproduction.

“…Mossbourne… provides an oasis for middle-class colonisation… [Mossbourne] draws on wider popular discourses of the pram-pushing ‘chav’ or the black, hooded gangster to portray ‘urban children’ and their families as regressive blocks to economic prosperity.

“…it is not the dirty white working-class who are obstructing modernity’s melting pot, but a privileged white, middle-class who are drawing boundaries between themselves and their ethnic and classed others.”

Hughes: head teacher at Mossbourne (PR pic)
Hughes: head teacher

Mossbourne principal Peter Hughes has declined Loving Dalston’s requests to comment. His personal assistant, Anne O’Sullivan, denies that the Hackney school seeks out pupils who already have what it takes to excel.

She says: “All our students come via the Learning Trust [now run by Hackney council, the local authority]. The local authority selects the students – we don’t.

“We work closely with our feeder schools in Hackney and we try our best to imbue them with the Mossbourne ethos.”

Asked to comment on the thesis, Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott says: “It describes Mossbourne as ‘an oasis of middle-class colonisation’.

“Presumably that refers to the academic rigour, disciplined behaviour and ambition that Mossbourne prides itself on. But these things are equally valued by working-class Hackney residents, black and white.

MP Diane Abbott (PR pic)
Abbott: “A valued school”

“It is patronising to assume that only the middle classes care about these things. Mossbourne remains the most over-subscribed school in Hackney.”

Dr Kulz told Loving Dalston that her paper, which won the 2014 British Educational Research Association doctoral thesis award, is to be published as a book by RKP.

David Altheer 141014

* Backstory: Mossbourne A-levels ‘outstanding’; From Hackney to the halls of privilege; Hackney regains education control 

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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44 thoughts on “‘Sex, drugs, privilege,’ says study of Hackney school the much-hailed Mossbourne

  1. A comment about September, sent several weeks ago, has been held out because its conents could not be substantiated. In the absence of news from the school authorities, I ask whether anyone, can send me some details, in confidence. Then I can investigate and in the interests of openness add to that information, information that parents and others should have.

    I emphasise that your personal details would not be released to anyone. The law backs confidentiality of a journalist’s sources when that is in the public interest, as in this case.

    Email me at David, editor[at]lovingdalston.co.uk

  2. As a white middle, middle-class girl (yes, there is a difference in this ever-growing class system) who attended Mossbourne in its inaugural year, I think it is important to mention a couple of things. In my opinion, instances of racism at Mossbourne were seen most from the voluntary speakers. They would often come in and tell us to our faces they were scared about coming to a Hackney school, and that office colleagues joked about buying them a bulletproof jacket.

    The teachers were never racist, at least while I was there, but they were most certainly racially aware: schools are under pressure to make sure that children from all supposedly vulnerable ethnic minorities succeeded. In one instance I saw a list of “minorities for extra support” on a publicly visible message board in a teachers’ office. It stated that young Turkish boys and girls were the most vulnerable in schools to slipping through the net and being left behind. Clearly, Mossbourne has its eye out for minorities it can help. Whether or not it stems from governmental requirements, is out of the kindness of the teachers’ hearts or is to appear better to Ofsted is something we can never know.

    As for the study’s comment about “mostly black boys” sitting outside teachers’ offices, it would be wise to look up the statistics of ethnic and gender groups in the school, the group of black boys being the highest, because there were few boy schools left in Hackney by 2004.
 If I look at the headline, “Sex, drugs and privilege”, I feel there are far deeper issues here, in that Mossbourne – like many other schools – has a clear divide in its ethnic “playground landscaping”, where certain groups stay together. Not only did everybody think everyone else (white/black/Asian/European…) was doing drugs and having sex, everyone was lying about it because that’s what children and teenagers do. They lie about it to their friends and deny it to those who will judge it, for example, someone from another social group.

    What students and parents say about each other is as true as the exaggerations you still hear from that man/woman from the office who overdoes it at the pub then boasts about it the next day. This is not to say there aren’t white girls in schools who do these things, in my time there most certainly were, as there were black girls who indulged, and Asian boys who couldn’t control their desires; this shouldn’t be an issue that is centred on one group. It’s just a shame to pin a label an entire school on what I would say is such a small percentage of its students.

    I for one was bullied incessantly by those who thought I took drugs and was promiscuous. But despite all the comments made about me I never really experienced most of these things until university.

    Yes, I am just one person but I am an example of the accused white middle-class girls, and one that was wrongly accused.

    I feel for this sociologist. Her work on a completely separate issue has now become the focus for all the criticisms of Mossbourne, and of academies, that we saw every day by people both in and out of the school.

    If you are an adult and don’t like what you read here, don’t send your children to Mossbourne and let those who could benefit from one of those highly coveted places have it.
 I’m so glad to see others from the school defend the issue or breathe new life into these ideas in the comment section. There is far more to this story.

    Excellent points, and here’s another: it’s not only the young who exaggerate their sexual and getting-high achievments. – Ed.

  3. If a group contains more than seven black boys, there’s a huge probability that they are going to be split up. But they ain’t doing nothing. Whereas if there’s a group with more than seven white people, they ain’t getting split.

    They think we are black hustlers. Black boys do nothing.

    Only three black teachers. But there’s one piff teacher in the science department.

  4. I have been a reader of this site for many years, and I must express how deeply disappointed I am in your response to Dr Kulz. Not only have you clearly gone out of your way to sensationalise the reportage on this topic (why does the headline mention sex?) but you are also dismissive of the substance of her work.

    Your claim that “outside academia people will read about down-to-earth issues rather than about ‘how education markets interact’ , ‘policy landscapes’ and ‘micro-practices’” is both disrespectful in failing to see the deep social import of such ideas and patronising to your readers.

    You owe Dr Kulz an apology, and in future should learn to treat academics and researchers with more respect and integrity. All you have done here is to exploit someone else’s work to create dumbed-down headline fodder.

    This site needs every reader it can get and I am grateful for the clearly put thread of your argument. I’ve already defended myself here against sensationalising.

    As for my gibe about Academyspeak, I shall wherever possible express a preference for easily understood terminology. After all, both Dr Kulz and I are in the communications business. – Ed.

  5. Yeah, real talk, man, like Mr Hughes doesn’t want. He’s a pussy, you know. Bare skets in the school. Some of my boys are in APC free dem. When you go LSU there are black people there.

  6. “The students are chosen by the Learning Trust” is the party line. I think you will find that selective practices did indeed take place, certainly in the early years. Therefore, not all of the students were selected by the Learning Trust, although most were.

    What you will find is that about 10% of admissions were very much on the basis of class and ability and that ncreasing numbers were appearing on-roll as mid-term admissions in order to keep the heat off the selection strategy.

  7. They’re picking on the school only because it’s meant to be a model for an academy. I’m sure this happens in other schools, it’s just that this one was meant to be perfect.

    Why do the white people take drugs, anyway? Drugs are boring!

  8. HEADLINE: Drugs, sex and privilege
    BODY: Racism

    I guess this is the order of importance that the readership of Loving Dalston would place on the issues raised.

    I am still reading the dissertation itself, but surely there are ethical questions to raise from it? Anyone who attended the school or worked there could identify most if not all the staff quoted in the thesis. I certainly can; including myself, which I think is unethical. I am surprised that the dissertation competition panel allowed this.

  9. What they are saying is very true. If it were a group of black boys, they would be excluded from the school. The teachers should be very firm with the students and not refer to shouting all the time and sending them out of the class – and I can’t express it enough that it is mainly black students that receive this punishment, whereas others receive only a simple warning.

    The white students are always – and I mean always – favoured. Go to some classes and you will see that the white students are in the front row and the black students in the back row. (I am referring to the idea of white people supposedly wanting to learn and black students being subdued and slacking-off.)

    I am of African descent and my children go to Mossbourne. They are very bright, although the teachers are always trying to catch them out on minor points. This needs to stop. I think that though the school has very good results, its main aim is to promote the white students and not worry about the leftovers.

    I am glad that this article was written because it shows that the white students are even worse. They are clearly making a bad name for themselves and they should quit while they are ahead. The principal seems scared to make a statement. This whole article is a real act of exposure and I would like to see Mossbourne try to answer back.

    1. Oh don’t be absurd, MozzyParent. Segregated classrooms? This is 21st-century Hackney we’re talking about, not 1950s Alabama. To make such outlandish comments devalues what anti-racism campaigners have fought for.

      When have you, as a parent, been in a Mossbourne classroom? If you did visit, you’d see mixed classes of children working. You might see history lessons on the civil-rights movement; English classes on slave narratives and contemporary African-American fiction, and geography classes on the impact of gentrification on Hackney.

      Any student who breaks the rules gets a consequence and I’m sure that your children are no different. You should be talking to them about their learning and their behaviour, not making excuses for them by crying racism. What message will that send?

      1. Well, obviously the person who comments as an ex-Mozzy teacher is going to have a biased view.

        It’s true what the Mozzy parent is saying. When I was in the younger years and we were put in sets you’d hardly find any black students in set 1 despite the fact some had the same abilities.

        I should know, it happened to me and I do not have behavioural problems – or anything!

      2. I agree, Ex-MossTeacher. I think it would be great for parents to actually come into lessons and observe that Mossbourne has a clear procedure for each mistake or misdemeanour any student or staff member makes. In every one of my years at Mossbourne the punishment was clear: break, then lunch, then 6 o’clock, then Saturday, depending on the severity of the action.

        If anything, I found that you were more likely to be shouted at if you rarely misbehaved because it was more of a surprise to your teachers, ones who I felt actually got to know their pupils and their needs in the short time they spent with them each week.

        I’ve now worked in many many schools all over London, and if anything it makes me proud that I am an ex-Mossbournian, and angered that many other pupils in England do not have the same opportunities I had by going there.

        To currentmossbournian, I say that the statistics of the school show that the largest gender group is male and most of that group is black. I find it unlikely, and remember from my own lessons, that white-middle-class was more of a minority compared with the make-up of students at other Hackney schools, for example Stoke Newington.

        When you leave a school and sample another person’s experience of school, you may be glad you were protected by those ivory towers that Mossbourne emulates.

        1. I am very grateful for being “protected by those ivory towers that Mossbourne emulates”. Clearly, if I weren’t I wouldn’t have stayed on until year 13. But this isn’t the issue. I am talking not about the quality of lessons or the fairness of sanctions, but about the fact that sometimes they don’t let black average students like us fufil our “true potential” because of favouritism towards white middle-class students.

          As I said in my earlier comment, they wouldn’t put a black student like me in a top set even though I had the same abilities as many of the other white middle-class students in that class.

          Until you’re a black student in a society like this, you’ll never understand or experience institutional racism like many of us have.

        2. Institutional racism in Mossbourne is an absurd accusation and in no way a representation of what goes on at the school. It is also insulting to those Mossbourne teachers who work tirelessly for the achievement of all the students they teach.

          There is a huge number of teaching jobs in more than 20,000 secondary schools to chose – just check the vacancies in The Times Educational Supplement.

          Some of us choose to work in an inner-city, racially mixed school because that is our passion and vocation. If we wanted to teach classrooms full of white faces we could. We don’t, because we are passionate about improving the life chances of all young people regardless of ethnicity and social standing.

        3. I have had first-hand experience of the manner in which the Mossbourne senior leadership team (SLT) doesn’t always apply the rules fairly, or even stick to school policy. In our case Mossbourne acted in a highly questionable manner.

          To go into detail would be to expose our identity, but I will say that in our experience the ethics and integrity of some members of the SLT show some lack.

          You are lucky that the rules were applied fairly and consistently for you. I cannot say the same for my child.

  10. Wow. In your endeavours to find a good story, you have fallen the way of the tabloids, and worse. Blame the girls for “having sex”. It’s this kind of bad journalistic representation that gets us nowhere in the fight for equality for our daughters. Shame on you.

    Of course, that would be wrong, and my article made no such accusations. I’d never blame anyone for something as natural as having sex, and I do not think the thesis did, either. – Ed.

    1. When you say “A pupil says of a group of mostly white middle-class girls: ‘All they do is take drugs and have sex’” this is salacious. It’s precisely the kind of view that girls are bombarded with.

      You are, of course, referring to a quotation of a pupil by the study’s author. If a student at a school with avowedly high standards is evidently falling victim to sexism, surely the quotation should mot be censored by the thesis? – Ed.

  11. As a former teacher at the school, I have the authority (like the ex-students on here) to comment on this. First, coming from an academic background, I am surprised and slightly horrified by the emotive rhetoric and clear political bias evident in Christy Kulz’s thesis statement. It makes a mockery of sociology as a discipline if such polemic dressed as academic research can win an award.

    Secondly, I have worked in several London schools (comprehensives and academies) and Mossbourne was the only school that I would be happy sending my own children to – a rare accolade from a teacher.

    It is amazingly patronising to the students and teachers to claim that the school is institutionally racist–and that values of hard work and achievement are “white middle-class”. As the MP Diane Abbott pointed out, these are values shared by all sectors of Hackney’s community.

    The school is strict because it refuses to patronise its students – ie, accept self-destructive behaviour from students on the basis that they may have a “difficult” background. In my experience, the majority of students speak very positively about the relationships that they have with their teachers, and agree that the structure of Mossbourne allows for creativity within the classroom and for the majority of students to participate and succeed in their subjects.

    Having taught in schools where lessons were disrupted, students bullied and staff assaulted, I became disillusioned with these bright, wonderful students being consigned to the educational scrap heap due to poor leadership and tolerance of poor behaviour.

    Yes, Mossbourne could do more to encourage student independence, but the most important thing is to provide each student with access to an outstanding education so that doors in the future are open to them, not closed. It delivers on this.

    The school does not select its students; the Learning Trust does. Had Dr Kultz been born into a Hackney family, I wonder where her parents would have wanted to her to go to school and why. It is all very well to espouse an anti-academy view from a point of privilege, but if the odds are stacked against you, Mossbourne offers students access to the world of privilege that academics like Kulz enjoy.

  12. I’m a current student at Mossbourne Community Academy in the older years and I can say this is very true. And there is evidence of white middle-class students selling drugs and having lots of sex. I think they believe they’re on E4 Skins or something. Yet they’re always favoured by teachers and used as good examples just because they’re applying to Russell-group unis if not Oxbridge, while working-class students like me and my friends get no attention at all when all we do is keep our heads down and work.

  13. My observation of Mossbourne, due to the seemingly systematic social-cleansing policies of Hackney council et al, is that it is quietly displacing students from poor and local backgrounds.

    I believe Dr Kulz makes a valid point in her thesis when she highlights the fact that “micro-practices”, in my view Mossbourne’s selective discrimination, have a wider impact on society.

    Education is the key to social mobility and better life chances. Mossbourne appears to have become the beacon of privileged middle-class educational ideology and aspiration to the detriment of the less affluent.

    It is my opinion that those student who can barely pay for their lunch are less likely than others to afford drugs. I would like to know how all this debauchery is possible in or around the school’s premises.

    What Mossbourne should be doing is inspiring and encouraging all children to the best academic attainment possible and not explicitly demonstrating a bias towards rich kids.

  14. This thesis has elements of truth. Mossbourne constantly overlooks the behaviour and attitude of middle-classed white students. In most cases they are much worse. They bunk school, smoke weed and act promiscuously.

  15. A misguided and ill-informed representation of Mossbourne.

From my experience, there is no clear distinction of class. It is hardly mentioned. Though some staff at Mossbourne believe that they should mould their students into the perfect, functional middle-class representation, most teachers have enough autonomy and awareness to allow students to hold their own views and shape their own future.
    Everyone is generally treated equally and fairly. I am from an ethnic minority. I wouldn’t agree with claims that black students are being treated unfairly. I will say that there is a lot of emphasis by the school on how students present themselves and first impressions play a big part in this.

    If you initially present yourself badly by being unorganised or having a general overly relaxed manner, you will be scrutinised every moment by Mossbourne staff.

    As for privilege, the school is built around a wide range of backgrounds: white middle-class girls make up only a small minority of students. Those who have privilege, being in an environment such as Mossbourne, are made aware of it and understand how this may affect them in relation to others.

Drug use and sex among students is as prevalent as in any other East London school, and never in or around the premises. This entire article is riddled with embellishment and hyperbole and is just honestly poor journalism. Next time get some facts rather then generating meaningless clickbait.

  16. First of all, Mossbourne is not a fully white middle-class-student school. Most of the students are from an ethnic minority. I am a student there and I don’t believe you have statistics from the school based on colour – which the school probably doesn’t even record. Also, it’s kind of funny, because half the teachers are black. It might be true that black students are getting in trouble a lot more than the white students. However, this could be for many reasons. Labelling from primary school could be an effect: that they’re not doing so well at school could lead them to behave badly.

    As for drugs, I’ve been at the school for many years and I haven’t come across a single person asking me for any kind of drug. None of my friends has been offered any, so far as I know.

    It might be true that the sixth-formers are dealing drugs. However, you do not know the reason. The type of people who did it were the kind of people you wouldn’t expect. They were in top sets and were really smart. You cannot generalise and say that it’s only sex, drugs and privilege. The students are chosen by the Learning Trust and the chosen students aren’t special in any way. The league tables clearly indicate the difference students make at the end of year 11. Mossbourne being the school with the best results for many years clearly backs up my point.

    Thirdly, even though teenage sex is becoming more socially accepted, you are making such a big deal out of it. Just as other commenters here point out, other schools have had more serious problems than happened in Mossbourne recently. Stop tarnishing what Sir Michael Wilshaw strived for.

    This is clearly addressed to the writer of the report, which can be read via http://research.gold.ac.uk/10157/ – Ed.

  17. It is time for the country to see the dark truth behind this truly awful institution. Sure, you see the results of the school on the website, and you’re pretty much convinced that your child will come out with its “true potential” and top grades. What is never noticed is that the majority of students such as me are actually deprived of their true potential.

    Mossbourne is a school that completely rips apart creativity in students, and just sets them up to be one more slave. I developed depression over my five years there, and now that I’m out, I’m so happy that I see the point in life again. I actually have a joy in the subjects I study at A-level, and I am not exhausting myself with thoughts of suicide while doing mathematics exercises in silence along with the rest of my fellow pupils.

    More than half of the teachers left the school over the past year due to the horrible life offered there and the life that they are pressured into enforcing (if life is what you’d even call it). I am sure the media have not been informed of Mossbourne’s deep dark secrets such as this one. When inspectors come in, students are taught to act as “teacher’s pets” and so never see the true sadness that lies within Mossbourne Communist Academy, as it calls itself. The only thing the school’s pupils feel bonded by is their shared depression and dislike of the principal and his of teacher minions.

    Mossbourne may have succeeded with my getting great grades, but it has failed me in every other aspect. What is the point of fighting for grades which at the end mean nothing to you, because you have been wiped of all interest in the subjects?

    Another instance in which the system shows failure is how students have been excluded in the past for writing on social media that they do not like the school. We are given no freedom of speech. Cameron really has realised the aim of competing with China.

    1. I agree with you, Ex Student. I’m a student at Mossbourne and what you write seems so true. I actually don’t take interest in the subjects I used to like because the school pushes you so far up that you begin to dislike it.
      I don’t even have a clear career path because I don’t think I want to go into further education.

      I also agree about the exclusion bit. If a black boy were to smoke weed, he’d be kicked out. But recently in my year group the white-middle-class group, which includes girls and boys, was caught smoking and drinking in Hackney Downs park and the next day they were spread out across the school outside head-of-learning offices so they couldn’t communicate with one another.

      Were they all black boys, they would be immediately excluded. However, these white students were just given warnings and kept out of lessons.

      1. I think it will not be much longer before Mossbourne is caught red-handed for not paying enough respect to human rights, as the media are starting to become aware of the issue – at last.

        I am sure you have some grievances but perhaps I should point out that school pupils have fewer rights than adults; for example, they cannot vote. – Ed.

    2. Yes, yes, yes… this says it all. I do not know if other media have been informed of this, but this is life in Mossbourne summed up perfectly.

      Current and former teachers, we as current students feel the pain you have had to repress. Most of all, I have even been informed by a few ex-teachers on countless occasions, including my form tutor several years ago who left due to the absurd communist regime which is enforced by the head Peter Hughes.

      Sir Michael Wilshaw, YOU WERE THE REAL DEAL.

  18. That title sounds more fitting to the teaching staff, to be honest.

  19. This is a Hackney, not just a Mossbourne issue. These middle-class white children have the freedom and the disposable income to abuse drugs. Have a look at Stoke Newington School – it’s even more apparent there. Teens are having sex all over London. That is very common.

    The racism thing is kind of true but that’s because of the stereotype given to black Hackney boys. Teachers come in, expecting them to be bad-mannered and rude, so come down hard on them to try to show authority and stop any problems they expect to have.

    Mossbourne is a great school. Yes, it’s stressfull and many rules seem excessive and pointless, but the ethos that Sir Michael Wilshaw started the school with works. And that is proven by results.

    1. Waaaaait a minute, Exmossbournian… more apparent there? Stokey has stoners, yeah, but everywhere does.

      What Mossbourne girls love and no one has mentioned yet, is horse tranquilliser. Stokey don’t do them tings. And anyway Stokey are real. Mossbourne girls are so up themselves they thesis worthy, he-he.

Leaaaaaave it.

  20. I am angry to read this sensationalised account of my thesis that belittles my research. At no point does the thesis claim that anyone is dealing drugs or engaging in sexual activity at the school. These quotes are being taken out of context and fused in a way that rearranges their meaning in order to fabricate a salacious story. 

    The thesis is about more serious and less sexy issues, like how the everyday micro-practices of individuals connect to larger education policy landscapes and how populations are governed. 

    Mossbourne is not an exceptional phenomenon but symbolic of wider structural changes to the education system. The debate we need to have is not about sex or drugs or even the practices of a particular school but how education markets interact and shape social inequality in urban space.

    Instead of creating an intelligent space for debate you have cut and pasted salacious snippets – a disappointing outcome. First, can you please correct the inference [sic] that children are selling drugs or engaging in sexual activity at the school, because this is not stated in the thesis? Also, you did not specify that our brief conversation was a phone interview, so I would request that you also delete the reference to my impending book and potential publisher. 

    I spoke to you as a journalist by name and publication. There was no deception. I cannot see why I should remove an interesting footnote, about the impending book, from the story.

    You, however, have misrepresented the article which, contrary to what you say, attributes the claims to students and teachers quoted by you.

    A reporter trying to communicate with the public is going to focus on points likely to interest readers, just as you focus on issues that might interest sociologists. That seems to be borne out by most of the comments I have received. For example, outside academia people will read about down-to-earth issues rather than about “how education markets interact”, “policy landscapes” and“micro-practices”. – Ed.

  21. I’m a student at the school and this is not at all surprising, from the view of a parent you’s might see your children as your angles, however they’re different to the children you sit with at your dinner table. And it’s about time someone’s bought this up.

  22. As an ex student I believe that, yes, there was a select few who took drugs etc. and that is the same with any school across the UK.

    When I was there the school was definitely elitist, most so in the sixth form. I wouldn’t say it was handpicking from white middle-class families. In the 2006 intake I was one of the few white people there and the top sets were not mostly white at all.

    I think Mossbourne was a victim of its own success in that sense as it is the most-applied-for school.

    It still taught me life skills very well and I will be thankful to Sir Michael Wilshaw for how the school was run. It may feel like a prison and very hard school but it works.
    Maybe the stress it causes is making people turn to this life of “sex and drugs” – which could have just been the surveyed kids trying to have a joke-about.


  23. Well, I was part of the first year to attend Mossbourne and I can easily say that, yes, Mossbourne racially discriminated against black boys especially.

    A lot less patience was shown. Black working-class males were stigmatised as soon as they entered the building. Many teachers thought throwing them out of classes or excluding them over minor incidents was the way to go.

    Overall, in racial and class inequality, Mossbourne definitely showed signs of that and probably still does. The misunderstanding between pupil and teacher was often down to the teacher’s ignorance. You could quite clearly see the teachers who genuinely tried with their students as opposed to those who didn’t.

    Also, the pupil voice was suppressed quite often. Our opinions were not heard or taken into consideration. Mossbourne’s goal was to simply try to mould working-class students into their idealistic view of middle-class white citizens, no matter what their background.

    1. I really don’t think that’s true at all. Teachers never judged students because of colour. The research in the actual thesis – which I have read through and which this article explains poorly – demonstrates that actually teachers were not making these judgments. In some cases, teachers were deliberately favouring minorities because they, the teachers, felt the pupils were underprivileged in life.

      The children were instead judged after they had misbehaved for the first time or spoken back to the teacher or were continuously disruptive. They were then given a far harder time than typically good children and this goes on in every school in the country. Unfortunately, as you say, this was more common among working-class black boys who had come from less “structured’ backgrounds”, but it was just as prevalent among white working-class boys but they made up a smaller percentage of the school as a whole.

      I agree that the pupil/parent voice was suppressed. This was something that was continually highlighted in Ofsted reports and isn’t a surprising discover at all.

      I’ll point out only that it was not me who talked about working-class black boys but the thesis. Incidentally, the standard of comments and the thinking evident behind them suggests to me that Mossbourne provides a good education. Perhaps I should be asking graduates of the academy (Old Mossies?) if they would be interested in journalistic work experience with Loving Dalston. – Ed.

  24. The “methodology” apparently involves asking students what they think of other students.

    Where are the comparative statistics on drug use? Where is the evidence that any of these childrens are using drugs or having sex?

    Pseudoscience and hearsay posing as academia.

  25. This study is from a Goldsmiths College academic well-skilled in producing material according to her anti-academy agenda. Perhaps you can contact her and question her methodology.
    The headline statements would fit well in the Daily Mail.

    I held back on the headline, which in The Mail would be something like “Sex, drugs and snobbery at Gove favourite school”.

    As the story says, I contacted the writer of the study. It is for others, eg, academics, or an education publication such as the THES, to question her methodology, which apparently satisfied an academic-contest panel and a specialist publisher. – Ed.

    1. How do we get hold of the study? It sounds misguided at best and causing a lot of trouble for white middle-class girls at the school who are not constantly taking drugs and having sex but are now being scapegoated by a school fearful for its reputation.

      A production error meant that the link http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/10157 was omitted. Thanks for pointing that out. You could of course have asked Mossbourne to show you a print copy of the prize-winning dissertation. Surely the school library has one?

      It is a pity the principal did not accept the many opportunities I offered him to comment on/rebut the study (with which Mossbourne co-operated).

      I shall be asking him just how his school is scapegoating the white middle-class girls. – Ed.

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