Stratford St Mary: School’s legal action over ‘unfair’ article published by LibDems

Norman Woodard of Stratford St Mary Primary with the paper with a picture of the school on the front

Norman Woodard of Stratford St Mary Primary with the paper with a picture of the school on the front cover - Credit: Archant

AN ANGRY headteacher is taking legal action after a local election campaign pamphlet pictured only her primary school in an attack on Suffolk education – just weeks after it received a “good” Ofsted report.

Jenny Cockett, headteacher of Stratford St Mary Primary School, says she is “disgusted” at the Liberal Democrat pamphlet Samford Focus – delivered to every house in the Mid Samford ward, in Babergh, yesterday.

It pictured her school under the headline ‘Schools Results Shock’. Lib Dem councillors Sue Carpendale and Dr Michael Bamford, who is running for election in Mid Samford, are pictured outside the school.

The school, near the Suffolk/Essex border, was rated “satisfactory” at its last inspection visit in October 2009 but moved up to the next level of “good” in an Ofsted report on February 25, 2013.

Its pupil behaviour was considered “outstanding” by lead inspector Godfrey Bancroft, who added: “Pupils’ attainment at the end of Year Two and when they leave at the end of Year Six is well above average.”

Both Dr Bamford and former county Lib Dem leader Kathy Pollard have “unreservedly apologised” over the publication, adding no direct criticism of the primary school was implied.

Mrs Cockett, who has contacted Suffolk County Council’s legal department over the matter, said: “I’m disgusted at the fact our school has been used without any of the details being checked.

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“The article is completely wrong. We have just got a ‘good’ from Ofsted and using us as an example of a failing school is, to say the least, wrong and unfair.

“Parents, children and teachers worked very hard to get from satisfactory to good.

“And I didn’t give any permission for them to photograph at our school – it’s either an old picture or they did it without our permission.”

Norman Woodard, chairman of governors at the school which has 59 pupils, contacted the East Anglian Daily Times after receiving the pamphlet through his door.

“I had steam coming out of my ears when I first saw it,” he said.

“I couldn’t believe it. It clearly implicates the school in the story. I think it’s libellous.”

Dr Bamford said: “The article made no specific reference to the school – it was a general story about the state of schools in the county, which I think have deteriorated under the leadership of the Conservatives.

“It is not a direct criticism of the school and I apologise if they thought it was.”

Mrs Pollard said: “I understand the school’s anger and I absolutely and unreservedly apologise. No harm was intended and we should have been celebrating the school’s good Ofsted report. We will correct this in our next publication.”

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