People sometimes ask whether or not, when we support a particular point of view in our daily leader column, we give some sort of extra and perhaps unmerited prominence to the story to which it refers.
The simple answer is no. It tends to work the other way round, in that we generally opt to comment on a subject we already feel is likely to be one of the biggest ‘talkers’ of the day.
Such was the case last week with our article ‘Bad hair day for pupils’, which revealed how some youngsters at Park Community School in Leigh Park were being taught separately after being deemed to have broken the school’s rules on hair styles.
I thought our accompanying leader article generally took the middle ground, although we did suggest that rules would not engender a good community spirit in schools if they were perceived by pupils and parents of being petty.
The chairman of governors didn’t agree that was the case here, and we’re glad to give him his say in our Opinions pages today.
An ex-member of staff, who delightfully signed himself as Grumpy Old Teacher, felt though that we had simply over-egged the whole story.
‘The News has been good about reporting the phenomenal success of the school – special measures to No 1 in contextual value added results in 10 years – and it is right that the paper should give a balanced view, but an 11-year-old girl who is getting picky about her hair dye? Are you serious?’ he wrote.
‘Parents and pupils know the rules when they join the school, they have a very clear choice: go to a school where the pupils can flout the rules or go to a school where rules are rigorously enforced.
‘And hey! Guess what? Park Community School is consistently in the ten best-performing schools in the country!’
We think the hairstyle issue, which involved a number of pupils, was a matter that would prompt a lot of interest and debate and as such was a big story.
‘News,’ as someone once said ‘is what people talk about.’ And the more they talk, the bigger the news.
That’s also true of the many stories which we have featured celebrating success achieved by pupils and staff, at Park Community School and schools across the area.
Our pledge is to go on celebrating that success in style.
Occasionally, the ‘warts’ might legitimately attract a great deal of interest, but there’s no doubt that so do the many stories about achievement.