School reeling after Ofsted mauling
AN award-winning primary school is reeling after being accused of “serious weaknesses” in an Ofsted report.Inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education criticised the leadership and management of Wortham Primary School, near Diss, in a report that has devastated parents, staff and governors.
AN award-winning primary school is reeling after being accused of “serious weaknesses” in an Ofsted report.
Inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education criticised the leadership and management of Wortham Primary School, near Diss, in a report that has devastated parents, staff and governors.
Susan Rae, chairman of governors at the school, said: “It feels like they rolled up in a tank and fired – and we are all suffering from the fall-out.”
The village school, named a national school of achievement in 2002, said it disagreed with the findings.
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Following a three-day inspection in March, Ofsted inspection contractor Tribal PPI said the leadership, management and governance of the school were “unsatisfactory”, its curriculum was “insufficiently balanced” and its links with parents and the Local Education Authority (LEA) were “poor”.
Inspectors said the school provided an acceptable standard of education overall, but added pupils were “significantly underachieving” in information and communication technology (ICT).
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Governors said they recognised ICT facilities needed improvement, but said the “damning” verdicts of the report were “scarcely believable”.
Miss Rae said: “It was such a blow and caused so much consternation, we did not know what to do for the best.
“It has been a most wounding and debilitating experience, like a dead hand placed on you.”
The governor said the school, which has about 70 pupils, had a long record of success and an excellent reputation, highlighted by the fact that 30% of pupils came from outside the catchment area.
“There is no question that Wortham children are well taught, happy and very well-behaved,” said Miss Rae.
She said the school would have to be re-inspected within six to eight months to see if the “failings” had been addressed.
“This means more admin, more paperwork and a great deal of aggravation, set against a background that you are no good.”
The school is joining with others who have suffered similar experiences to make a formal complaint to Ofsted but Miss Rae said governors had opted not to make an official appeal because of the increased paperwork it would take and the need for further inspections.
“We are up to our eyeballs in paperwork at the best of times and, after this report, we have to draw up an action plan in 40 days. To be doing that and appealing is too much.”
Sue Hogg, the school's headteacher for 17 years, said the inspection had undermined the morale of all staff and added: “We feel that the report does not reflect the many positive aspects of our school.”
David Ruffley, the Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds and a regular visitor to the school, said he had never received a complaint about Wortham Primary School and that he found the Ofsted verdict “hard to believe”.
He added: “I will be happy to question how Ofsted came to the conclusion they did.”
An Ofsted spokeswoman said: “The school contacted the contractor with its concerns about the inspection in accordance with the complaints process.
“The contractor has investigated and issued a substantiative response to the school. If the school remain unhappy with the contractors' response they can refer their complaint to Ofsted. At present Ofsted has not been contacted by the school.”