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Longwood Primary lurches further into crisis after shocking Ofsted report

Politics / Fri 9th May 2014 am31 06:24am

THE CRISIS gripping Longwood Primary school in Paringdon Road has deepened after Ofsted told the school it has got worse since being placed into special measures three months ago.

With most schools, special measures is often the “feet touching the bottom of the pool” moment. Schools often then start an upward journey of recovery. St James C of E, just down the road from Longwood, received a very positive monitoring report after going into special measures.

The school was placed in special measures in Feb 2014. The government watchdog returned in April and appear to be shocked at what they describe as a further decline in standards.

The report will make shocking reading for parents and the matter seems to be so serious that the report has been sent all the way up to the office of Michael Gove, the secretary of state for education.

The report states:

Introduction

During March 2014, two interim headteachers have led the school while you have been absent due to ill health. You are expected to return to work after the Easter holidays. A number of teachers and leaders are leaving the school in April and the school is currently trying to recruit new staff. An IEB took over the responsibility for governance at the end of February 2014.

The quality of leadership and management at the school

The quality of education provided by the school has declined further since the last inspection. The arrangements for staffing and leadership are not fit for purpose. Too much of the teaching remains inadequate and a number of staff appointments have yet to be secured. There are a lot of teachers and teaching assistants who are on temporary or supply contracts. This means that pupils are subject to too many changes.

One of the consequences of this turbulence in staffing is that behaviour has declined. Pupils with the most challenging behaviour are not looked after effectively because the adults who work with them are not well enough trained. Staff react to poor behaviour, which is merely contained but not improved. Reward systems are not effective enough to encourage pupils in class to behave appropriately at all times.

You and some other leaders have yet to demonstrate that you understand strategically what needs to be achieved to establish the foundations for school improvement. Leaders are distracted by the problems that occur on a daily basis, which means they pay insufficient attention to laying the foundations for school improvement. The delegation of responsibility is ineffective. Many of the decisions about staffing are reactive to the needs at the time, which has resulted in confusion and a lack of clarity about who is responsible for different aspects of the school’s work.

The IEB has had insufficient time to have an impact. Its members demonstrate that they have a growing understanding of the problems and barriers that need overcoming so that the school can start to improve. Communication between the school leaders, the local authority and the IEB are not yet good enough. All three parties understand that they need to establish closer working relationships so that they can be more effective.

Neither the local authority statement of action or the school single plan address with enough urgency the main priorities of strengthening behaviour management and establishing a leadership and staffing structure which will underpin improvements to teaching and learning. The local authority has helped the school by finding interim leaders and identifying staff that will be, or that are, working in the school in the short term. The school is receiving a lot of advice and support from a number of partners. However, this is not having enough impact because of the instability of the staff team and leadership.

Following the monitoring inspection, the following judgements were made:

The local authority’s statement of action is not fit for purpose.

The school’s single plan is not fit for purpose.

The school may not appoint newly qualified teachers before the next monitoring inspection.

I am copying this letter to the Secretary of State, the Chair of the IEB and the Director of Children’s Services for Essex Local Authority.

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