Friday, 12 March 2010

Jesse Jackson meets Bush's turnaround school headmaster

One of the abiding images I'll remember from Obama's election night was a weeping Rev. Jesse Jackson, the long time political activist and equal rights campaigner in America.

On the 25th February he met Shepherd's Bush Phoenix High School Headmaster Sir William Atkinson at the Political and Public Life Awards at the House of Commons. Sir William, accompanied by our MP Andy Slaughter, received an award from Rev. Jackson for his services to education.

In 2009, Phoenix students achieved a record breaking 96% 5 A*-C grades in their GCSEs.  In 1995 this figure was just 4%, and in January 2010, Phoenix was confirmed as the highest performing school in England in the Government’s Achievement and Attainment Tables measuring progress from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4.

As most of you will be aware this school has a difficult history, but under Sir Williams' stewardship has gone from a failing institution to one of the most improved in England. The Government is keen to point out that this is due not only to Sir William's influence but also the investment into Phoenix which continues under the Building schools for the Future programme which will see £30 million spent over the next three years including a new sixth form.

Andy Slaughter said: ‘Jesse Jackson is an iconic figure in the history of the civil rights movement, but one of his passions is education for kids from underprivileged backgrounds.  I know that after meeting Sir William he was singing his praises for the rest of his visit to the UK.  We should all be proud of the achievements of William Atkinson and Phoenix High School that have merited this recognition’.

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