Hundreds of parents and students demand return of ‘brilliant’ teacher ousted from York school

Bill Davis with students. Photograph: Leeha Cox / Facebook
11 Jul 2016 @ 6.45 pm
| Education, News

More than 1,200 people have signed a petition demanding a ‘brilliant’ and ‘special’ York school teacher is returned to his post.

Bill Davis is being made redundant from his job as a PE teacher and head of year at Joseph Rowntree School after 30 years’ service.

His job has fallen victim to the school’s decision to reduce the number of hours allocated to PE and boost the time given to other subjects.

“People are outraged,” Millie Carr told YorkMix.

Millie, a Year 12 student studying for A levels at Jo Ro School, started the change.org petition asking for the decision to be overturned.

“Mr Davis was and is a special teacher because he went above and beyond his job description,” she said

“His door was always open, his assemblies were hilarious and he always supported you with any issue you had even now in Sixth Form.

“He didn’t give up on the kids that other people had given up on; he supported them and encouraged them to see the best in themselves.”

‘Angry and puzzled’

Mr Davis pictured with a school sports team. Photograph: Millie Carr
Mr Davis pictured with a school sports team. Photograph: Millie Carr

Millie, 17, discovered that Mr Davis was set to go on July 1 and said since then her dad had been trying to get a meeting with the school governors without success.

She told us:

When I heard the news I was angry and puzzled.

He is such a brilliant teacher; if more teachers were like Bill Davis then maybe we would have more kids excited about school, particularly PE.

He is everything a child needs to get through school; he emits kindness, and encouragement and empathy. His passion to want people succeed goes beyond their grades.

Leeha Cox with Mr Davis, in a photograph she submitted to the Facebook page
Leeha Cox with Mr Davis, in a photograph she submitted to the Facebook page

Hundreds of messages in support of Mr Davis have been left on a Facebook page set up by her dad, Bill Davis Needs You.

It now has more than 1,700 members. Here are just a few of the comments left by people on that page:

This man here isn’t just a teacher he’s been a friend to every single student he has ever had the pleasure of teaching! And I don’t know one person who doesn’t think this man should leave Jo Ro.

– Leeha Cox

Utterly ridiculous decision made by someone somewhere to let go the BEST teacher I’ve ever had the privilege to be taught by.

– Benj Kilner

Excellent teacher who gave so much support to my daughter and my family.

– Nicola Dunstan

This is a outrageous decision, clearly a lot of people are not happy at all about it!

– Sarah Turner

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How can the school even think about getting rid of a teacher who does so much for the kids and who is respected by so many of them.

– Trudi Black

One of the best teachers I’ve met going through primary & secondary. The fact that he’s being made redundant is shocking, the school couldn’t make a bigger mistake by doing this.

– Benjamin Hodgson

Many expressed their dismay that PE was being cut back on the school curriculum. Millie said the subject encouraged teamwork and enhanced physical and mental wellbeing.

“We are currently facing a period of high childhood obesity and by cutting PE it creates bigger problems for future generations,” she added.

Letter to parents

Head teacher of Joseph Rowntree School Richard Crane. Photograph: City of York Council
Head teacher of Joseph Rowntree School Richard Crane. Photograph: City of York Council

On Monday Joseph Rowntree School head teacher Richard Crane sent a letter to parents explaining the decision. You can download the full letter here.

Curriculum changes meant that more time needed to be given to GCSE courses in subjects including English, maths, foreign languages and science.

“In order to add time to one subject area, however, time has to be taken away from others,” Mr Crane wrote.

“It has been with great reluctance that the school has made some reduction to the allocation for PE in the coming year but this has been done in order to give more time to subjects that lead to a formal qualification.”

In Key Stage 3, PE will be reduced from four hours a fortnight to three. But this was being offset by the dance element of the curriculum being taken over by the drama department.

Extra time for science and citizenship in Key Stage 4 sees PE reduced from four to three hours per fortnight in Year 10, and two hours per fortnight in Year 11.

Mr Crane writes:

We are committed to working with parents and carers to help children to make healthy choices and take part in regular exercise but equally schools also have a responsibility to ensure that students receive a curriculum that will allow them to achieve qualifications to prepare them for adult life…

Regrettably any changes to the curriculum have an impact on our staffing structure. Unfortunately, in this instance, this has led to a redundancy process.

Decisions of this nature are not taken lightly, especially given the implications these choices have on valued colleagues…

Ultimately it is our goal to ensure that our students are as well prepared as possible for their future in a rapidly changing and complex world.

‘A huge mistake’

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Armed with her petition Millie is hopeful that the school governors will listen to parents and students, past and present.

“I would tell the governors and head teacher that they are making a huge mistake – 1,500 people can’t be wrong,” she told YorkMix.

“Joseph Rowntree School is lucky to have someone that cares so much about its students that he doesn’t mind sitting with them all lunch time to sort out a problem.

“They should be ashamed that they have ever even thought about making him redundant.”