December 8 2013 Latest news:
Friday, January 11, 2013
THE county council has denied that action taken by them over an alleged £500,000 computer scam led to a primary school receiving the lowest possible rating by Ofsted.
Glemsford Community Primary School, which was left owing thousands of pounds after it unwittingly signed long-term leases on 100 laptop computers, has been placed under special measures to help it improve after it was graded “inadequate” by Ofsted inspectors following a visit last October.
In the report, which is due to be published next week, the leadership and management, quality of teaching, and achievement of pupils were all deemed inadequate. The pupils’ behaviour was the only area rated “good”.
Last July, Suffolk County Council dismissed the entire board of governors and replaced it with an interim executive board. They also suspended head teacher Liz Steele – who later resigned – as a result of the alleged computer fraud. In his report, lead Ofsted inspector Steven Hill noted that the school had “suffered major disruptions to staffing in the last 18 months” and he criticised the local authority for not providing enough support.
Last night, a Suffolk County Council spokesman said they were disappointed by the report but denied that they were responsible for the problems outlined in it.
He said: “We believe strongly that we acted appropriately and in the best interests of the school and the community over the laptop leasing issue.
“We do not feel responsible for the outcome of the report because much of what was highlighted was deep rooted issues. In fact, the report talks very positively about more recent progress in the school and the interim leadership arrangements that are in place.
“The county council believes very firmly that the school is in a strong position to move out of special measures very quickly. The county council will of course give Glemsford Primary all the support it needs to do this.”
Following Mrs Steele’s resignation, Philip Ilsley and Iain Birtwell were appointed as head-teachers in September. The pair were singled out for praise in the Ofsted report, which stated: “Many of the issues identified in this report have already been clearly identified by the headteachers, who have already made plans to use extensive support offered by the local authority to develop the leadership and teaching skills of staff.”
Last night, Mr Ilsley told the EADT he thought the report was fair and balanced. He said: “The school has been through a very challenging year and we accept the report in full because it acknowledges the stage that the school is at now, but also that many of these things have already been recognised and were are working to put them right.
“It acknowledges that as interim heads, we have picked up on all the right things and that is what we have been tasked to do.”
A copy of the report has already been sent out to all parents of the 157 students at the school. Mr Ilsley added: “We have taken this decision because we have nothing to hide. There are a lot of positives within the report including the work that all of the staff, the local authority and the executive board have put in.”
Parents are invited to attend a meeting at the school next Thursday evening to discuss any concerns they have about the report. Clare Farrant, who is currently head at Crawford’s Primary School in Stowmarket will take over as permanent head at Glemsford from April.