Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 11°C

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 Ipswich Star 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 Ipswich Star 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 Ipswich Star 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

Spooky costumes on the beach at Felixstowe to launch the Halloween walk for EACH

A charity walk will light up Felixstowe’s promenade with its Halloween theme when it takes place next month.

Fire crews were called to Fraser House in Museum Street, Ipswich after a suspected gas leak was reported

A road in Ipswich has been reopened after a suspected gas leak forced the evacuation of a three storey building this morning.

Allison Heathcote and son James Heathcote at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, where she was treated after being shot five times in the Tunisia terror attacks.

A Felixstowe woman who was fighting for her life after the Tunisia beach attack in which her husband was killed has said she can only “vaguely recall” the massacre.

Andrew Renton takes his first public walk at a neuro conference with the help of Headway Physiotherapist Karen Hardy, left, and Acquired Brain Injury Support Worker Chloe Witton, right.

For most of us walking is a luxury too easily taken for granted.

Should Britain do more?

The public reaction to Europe’s migration crisis has been deeply polarised, but should Britain do more to offer homes to Syrian refugees affected by civil war?

Police are appealing for witnesses after the burglary of a disused business premises in Ipswich.

Durrants Rock n Roll auction

Inflatables and stage props go under the hammer in Rock n Roll auction

A Fokker A-series monoplane - basically the prototype for the Fokker E-series Eindecker fighters

It was the moment a technological breakthrough changed the stakes of aerial combat. Mike Peters, Galloway’s resident military historian, explains how Germany gained the upper hand.

Charlie Frost

“If everyone had a dad like him I don’t think there would be half so many problems in the world.”

Police want to trace two men seen in Bell Lane, Kesgrave after a home was burgled there.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages