Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 8°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Sudbury: Outgoing headteachers criticise Ofsted inspections

09:15 07 May 2014

Headteacher Jane Sharp, who is retiring from Woodhall County Primary School in Sudbury.

Headteacher Jane Sharp, who is retiring from Woodhall County Primary School in Sudbury.

Archant

Three headteachers who are all leaving west Suffolk primary schools at the end of this term have told of the “significant challenges” posed by changes to the Government’s Ofsted inspections.

shares

More stringent assessments focussed on “data” rather than a holistic approach to education have also come at a time when the county’s schools have been undergoing a change to two tier education as part of the school organisation review (SOR).

By the end of this term, every school in Sudbury and Great Cornard will have undergone a change of headteacher within a three year period.

Among the latest to leave their posts is St Gregory’s Primary School head, Phil Knowles, 48, who is taking up a new role with the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich as an advisor to church primary schools.

Also leaving are Woodhall Primary headteacher Jane Sharp, 59, and 64-year-old Wilma Hyde, from Pot Kiln Primary in Great Cornard, who are both retiring.

Mr Knowles, who started at St Gregory’s in 2008, believes pressures associated with heading up a school have increased dramatically. He said the biggest change has been to Ofsted, which has become more “data driven”.

“When I started, the inspectors were interested in good practice, seeing good teaching and a range of things going on in a school, but now it’s more of a number crunching exercise,” Mr Knowles said.

“If you are not deemed to be working at the appropriate levels – which are becoming higher and higher – it can cause huge problems.

“Some schools in the area that have been traditionally regarded as good schools have all of a sudden found themselves in a negative category – such as Tudor Primary which was recently put in special measures – and that has an impact on the whole community.

“If a school that has been very highly thought of doesn’t do well at Ofsted, it paints a negative picture of what’s happening in a school, when there are actually an awful lot of good things going on.”

Mrs Sharp, who has recently overseen the expansion of Woodhall to accommodate up to 420 students, agreed that changes to Ofsted posed a significant challenge to headteachers.

She said: “Where the inspectors used to take into account a lot more of what the school was doing in a holistic way, they are really nitpicking over things like English and maths when it should also be about the whole child and the enjoyment of learning.

“Because the Government’s focus is on English and maths, it seems that they’re not interested in anything else – it’s a shame if those important things like taking part in school productions are getting pushed out because of data.”

Mrs Sharp said the whole SOR had been a “huge change for the town”.

Meanwhile Mrs Hyde, who has been at Pot Kiln Primary since 2006, added: “I have enjoyed the job in the main but there have been some huge changes which have posed a challenge for all teaching staff.

“My biggest achievements were bringing the school back out of special measures and going through the SOR and managing that process. The recent changes have certainly made teaching a more stressful and demanding job.”

In March, an Ofsted report said that the life chances of young people in Suffolk were being “damaged” by the county council’s failure to challenge and support schools.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s regional director for the east of England, said there have been no “significant improvements” in pupils’ attainment and no “clear strategy” for how the authority will make improvements.

shares

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other East Anglian Daily Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by East Anglian Daily Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique East Anglian Daily Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

The scene of a thatch fire in Stoke-by-Nayland

A picturesque country cottage is still standing today despite a fire ripping through its thatched roof.

An Abellio Greater Anglia train

Rail services between London Liverpool Street and Norwich have been cancelled after a train fault at Diss.

Ipswich Town v Arsenal  FA Cup Final at Wembley 1978 - 

Kevin Beattie and Allan Hunter

It is an impassioned debate which never fails to invigorate the East Anglian derby.

Colchester Half-Marathon. Starting and finishing at Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Competitors braved the dismal morning weather today to take part in the Colchester Half Marathon.

The scene after the thatched roof fire in Stoke by Nayland - Picture credit - Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service

Ten fire crews tackled a thatched roof blaze in a Suffolk village overnight.

Sir John French: a colourful character and respected soldier

We’ve heard about the Suffolk men who fought at the battle of Neuve Chapelle.

Ipswich Crown Court

A 19-year old man who met up with a 13-year-old girl and exchanged text messages with her despite being given a police caution for kissing her several months earlier has been sentenced to 21 months youth detention.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral overlooking colourful displays in the Abbey Gardens

Suffolk’s most important religious building has been awarded a £300,000 Government grant to pay for urgent roof repairs.

Josephine Murphy

An 86-year-old woman who had gone missing from Clacton has been found safe and well

Aftermath of a barn fire in Holton.

A television antiques expert has appealed for help rebuilding his eco-friendly arts centre in Suffolk after a major blaze destroyed the historic sawmill that was to be its showroom and workshops.

Most read

Topic pages