There are two secondary schools in Skegness, The Skegness Grammar School, which is obviously a grammar school and St Clements College a comprehensive school.

The unfortunate thing with St Clements College is the Skegness Grammar School is selective and pretty much gets the top 25% of students from the Skegness and surrounding areas. This has resulted in many of the students at St Clements College listed as requiring special educational needs, lost the source now, but read about 1/4 of their pupils are SEN! From the BBC website almost 35% of the 171 students who sat GCSE’s at St Clements College in 2008 were special needs! In comparison of the 111 students from Skegness Grammar School who sat GCSE’s in 2008, none of them had SEN. So it’s unfair to directly compare these two schools.

St Clements College was closed a few years ago as a failing school, after reopening Ofsted reports indicate the school is improving, but still needs to improve further.

Our Experience of Schools in Skegness

My wife and I are not big fans of the school system in the UK and have home educated our three children from birth. Eldest son is 18 years old, never attended school and left Skegness earlier this week to attend University to study computer sciences at Nottingham University.

Son number two is 15 years old and was home educated up until a few months ago when we decided it would be easier to obtain qualifications at school, rather than go the same route as his elder brother who didn’t get GCSE’s, he had to study early with the Open University on merit.

Our youngest son (13 years old) who has never attended school and is very happy with home education.

Son number two is not as academic as our other two children and wasn’t working particularly hard at his education at home. It’s not that he’s not capable, but he’s developed a bad attitude towards education and with that sort of attitude our style of home education doesn’t work (mostly self led study requiring self motivation and discipline). If we’d have carried on until he was 16 he’d have no qualifications and no plans to study beyond the age of 16, we couldn’t let that happen which meant he had to go to a school (one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to make)!

Since the Skegness Grammar School wasn’t an option and to be honest in our minds there was the possibility he wouldn’t work hard for a school (any school) either, we decided to try St Clements College to gain GCSE’s with a tentative plan to join the army to become a veterinary technician or dog handler at 16/17 years of age.

He attended St Clements College for the first time summer 2009, he had problems immediately with multiple fights (lost count how many!) between him and other students and in one case a non student in the nearby church grounds on the way to school, (he entered school covered in this other persons blood!). If he wasn’t able to look after himself it would have been called bullying, he’s not a big kid (skinny as a rake, which probably doesn’t help, looks like a wimp), but he knows how to defend himself.

He was used to dealing mostly with adults and mature people who generally don’t start trouble for the sake of it. At St Clements College almost everyday in the first few weeks someone took a dislike to him and started chastising him. We taught him to look after himself “take no bullying” and “don’t be a victim” and so this resulted in multiple fights/altercations: fortunately he’s not been hurt badly (odd bruise here and there) during the fights, (some with multiple pupils attacking him) the same can’t be said for some of the kids who took him on (they apparently learn slowly at St Clements College!).

The summer holidays have come and gone and things have settled down, so no more fights so far.

Poor Quality Education at St Clements College

From an education perspective he’s found the work easy, which suits him as he’s not that interested in gaining a high quality education, very disappointing for us, but the old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” holds very true for our second born!

From what he’s told us the level of work is what I was doing at 11/12 years of age at an ex grammar school ~28 years ago! I went to a school called Swanwich Hall in Derbyshire until I was 13 years of age. This was not an exceptional school (it was a good comprehensive school) and I wasn’t an exceptional student, far from it, I completely messed up my school education and had to study hard at 17+ years of age to eventually get into University as a mature student to study genetics at The University of Sussex.

IMO successive governments (Conservative and Labour) have dumbed down the education system so year on year it appears that schools are always improving: better GCSE results every year, NO WAY! This however does not result in a high quality education for our children and long term is damaging our country!

Our son has found the work so easy he’s caught up with a years worth of missed work in weeks and attends extra courses that he finds more interesting: because he started near the end of the first year of GCSE work he had little choice of what to study. Where he has interests in sport (very athletic) and science, he was given courses like business studies and engineering which he has NO interest in at all.

He’s been getting comments from teachers his work is very good, when if he’d have given it us as part of his home based education he’d have been expected to rewrite it. We expect a very high standard of work and this school appear to expect a very low standard.

The Staff at St Clements College Skegness

We’ve had a mixed bag of results from our dealings with the staff at St Clements College, some are good, others are not, I’ll not mention any names (mainly because I didn’t note the names down :))

Generally speaking the school staff did not follow through with what they agreed to supply/do. For example when he was due to join we were told we’d be contacted with a list of course options, what was available etc… We’d discussed it in a meeting and was told at the time they didn’t know exactly what courses were available, (great planning, that was the reason for the meeting) so they would contact us later in the week with a list of available GCSE courses. This call never materialised, they wanted to sit down with just our son to decide on his GCSE courses: we suspect this was to make it easier to talk him into courses like engineering that he had no interest in! In the end he had choices between courses like engineering and child care, not a great deal of choice for a 15 year old boy interested in science, animals, sports, sign language (taught himself sign language)!

If it wasn’t for his attitude to the way we do home based education he’d have never been sent to St Clements College, the courses are awful choices for him.

Some of the St Clements College Staff lie to Students/Parents

One member of staff in particular will lie her ass off to get what she wants. For example after an altercation between our son and another pupil (in the first weeks) we’d been asked to keep our son at home a couple of days (not a suspension, he’d done nothing wrong IMO) to let things settle down (the other pupil was hurt) and give them time to come up with a plan. Since he was only going to a couple of lessons a day (they were easing him into school life) we agreed.

We were told we’d be contacted by the end of the week with a plan, we got no call and so on the following Monday morning we sent him to school for his lessons. He was sent home not long after, he’d been told by a member of staff that she’d called me (his Dad) and that I’d agreed he should be sent home until things are sorted out (so he came home).

This was a bare faced lie, she had NOT called me! I gave her a telling off over the phone for lying to our son, she also lied to me saying she’d left a message on our answer machine on Friday, we don’t own an answer machine! I sent him back to school for the next lesson and made it clear NOT to punish him, for a time they had two teachers following him through his lessons!

What sort of person lies like this in front of impressionable teenagers, if it’s alright for adults to lie surely it’s fine for kids as well! Not impressed with this lack of setting a good example.

I mentioned this to one of the higher members of staff and he basically said she’s not part of the teaching staff so nothing he can do about it!

A couple of weeks ago he left his school shoes in the sports changing rooms by mistake, he realised after getting home and assumed it would be safe over the weekend and planned to go in his trainers and get his shoes before the school day started on Monday. The school staff he spoke to for assistance refused to help him find his shoes and instead immediately sent him to a place called the Bic which is for misbehaved pupils at St Clements College!

They called us to complain at the lack of shoes and we’d need to get him new ones before he could leave the Bic, this was before they’d even checked the changing rooms/lost property etc… to see if they could find his shoes!!! That was completely unacceptable and I insisted they either send him to his lessons or home, (he was sent home!). I’m not having a child punished for an honest mistake, what sort of message does that send!

A week or so later he was playing rugby in the dinner break and a pupil accidentally stood on his thumb, the school nurse suspected the thumb might be broken and we understand under those circumstances parents should be called and the school will take the injured child to the local accident and emergency department.

We received no call from the school and our son was left to walk home at the end of the school day (almost 2 hours after the incident) which meant by the time he got to the A&E department in the Skegness Hospital the X-ray machine was closed down for the night (closed at 4pm)! He had to go back the following day with his hand in a lot of pain and wrapped in a flimsy bandage!

Turned out he’d dislocated the thumb and a doctor popped it back in, (didn’t need an X-ray, just needed to see the right doctor) fine now, but had it been a break (it looked quite bad) immediate action was required! The school completely failed in protecting our sons health.

An English teacher at the end of last term was impressed with his work and said he would do better in a harder class. Our son has chased this up, but so far nothing has happened.

St Clements College is lucky I’m recovering from an operation on my back and don’t want to waste my time dealing with a school. Also our son made this bed (he didn’t have to ever go to school) and so we are taking a big step back and letting him deal with the problems he created himself. If he wants a good education he’ll have to fight for it himself.

Take into account we’ve only had dealing with St Clements College for a few months with almost half of that time the school holidays, I can only imagine what it must be like for students/parents who have been dealing with this school for years!!!

Unfortunately St Clements College is a very low quality school, I feel bad sending one of our children to a school like this.

Comments are open for your positive and negative experiences with St Clements College Skegness.

David Law