Greenwich Time’s propaganda over Key Stage 2 tests

At the last full Council meeting in July, Conservative Councillors asked for Greenwich Time (the Council’s weekly newspaper) to be scrapped. Their request was rejected out of hand by the Labour Councillors who argued that the paper was a vital way of letting people know what was going on in the borough and was not in any way propaganda as the Conservative’s claimed. 


However, the Greenwich Time published on 10th August gives clear examples of how propaganda can function in a way which is not obvious. The front page carries two stories; one about a residential music course for Greenwich students and the other about titled ‘Year Six test results best ever’. 


The story about the music course is interesting as it seems a clear attempt to counter the closure of the Meridian Music Centre and council failure which was discussed at the Council meeting by Councillors from both parties and to reject the negative image put forward by the Mercury newspaper on its front page. This is subtle, but with the failure to mention the closure of the Meridian Music Centre, is clearly placed to ensure a different message about the success of music in Greenwich is what reaches residents.


The second piece however is clear propaganda, stating that Greenwich primary school received their best ever Key Stage 2 SATS test results. What the piece does not say is that only 30 of Greenwich’s 65 primary schools took the tests. Those schools which did not take the tests had teacher estimate their results. The schools who did not take the test were:- Bishop John Robinson, Boxgrove, Brooklands, Charlton Manor, Christ Church (Commerell Street), Christ Church (Shooters Hill), Deansfield, Ealdham, Fossdene, Foxfield, Gallions Mount, Greenslade, Halstow, Henwick, Heronsgate, Holy Family, Horn Park, Invicta, James Wolfe, Kidbrooke Park, Linton Mead, Middle Park, Montbelle, Nightingale, Notre Dame, Rockliffe Manor, South Rise, St Margaret's, St Mary's, St Patrick's, St Peter's, Thorntree, Timbercroft, Windrush, Wyborne.


Of the 30 schools which took the tests, Greenwich was fractionally below the national average in English and fractionally above it in Maths. However, once the teacher assessed results were added in, Greenwich was above the national average in both English and Maths. 


Now the results from the tests were actually reasonably good, however, as more than half the schools did not take the tests they are clearly not representative of the level of achievement of primary school students across the borough.  The failure by Greenwich Time to admit that more than half of schools did not do the tests renders the piece inaccurate and misleading. As Eltham North Conservative Councillor Dermot Poston made clear at the Council meeting, the failure of Greenwich Time to give the full picture renders it a piece of propaganda which in my opinion he is right to ‘bitterly resent’.


Author: Cllr Spencer Drury, Eltham North ward