Deptford. Schools. Crime. Government policy.

I'm not the first person to mention this, but when Michael Gove wants to restrict headteachers' pay to that of the Prime Minister, are we also going to be giving headteachers two free houses (one a lovely retreat in the country) and the opportunity to earn millions on the after dinner leacture circuit when they retire? No? Shut up then, Michael Gove.

The following is related, and you'll see why in a minute. A friend of mine was recently on the jury that convicted two young men of GBH with intent, following an attack last year that left a man in a coma. One of these kids – and they are, they're kids – cannot read, and already has two children of his own. One of them – and it may be the same one – barely knew his father, as he was in and out of prison during his childhood. And now the pattern repeats itself. These young men came from Deptford.

Depending on what report you read, you may not realise that Mark Elms, the headteacher who earned £250k for 2009-10, presided over a primary school in Deptford. A lot of outlets just said 'Lewisham', as apparently anything that happens within Lewisham borough is Lewisham ("Three arrests after fatal stabbing outside Lewisham pub" – this was Downham, which is BR1; "Arrests over gun killing in east London street" – this was Brockley, SE4, not Lewisham as the article says. Also, since when was Lewisham 'east' London?); you wouldn't catch the BBC placing an incident in Hampstead in Camden, would you? But I digress.

Deptford. It's not nice. Tidemill Primary School pupils speak 30 languages. It's not as bad as some people make it out to be, but the chances are if you're growing up in Deptford you're not having the best start in life. I've already made my feelings clear elsewhere about whether Mark Elms is worth the money, and about the reporting of the story, but is it worth speculating that, if children of Deptford get the attention of a school like Tidemill, then perhaps we might see fewer tragic stories like the one my friend had to deal with?


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