Ipswich school bounces back

AN IPSWICH school which was slammed by OFSTED in 2000 has today been praised by a parent as dedicated and caring.The turnaround at Downing Primary school was recognised in last year's government inspection but parent Ainea Corrigan believes the school deserves further recognition.

AN IPSWICH school which was slammed by OFSTED in 2000 has today been praised by a parent as dedicated and caring.

The turnaround at Downing Primary school was recognised in last year's government inspection but parent Ainea Corrigan believes the school deserves further recognition.

In a letter to the Evening Star she praises the attitudes of teachers at the school and tells of her children's happiness in attending Downing Primary.

She writes: "My children are both happy and settled and are doing well in their educational and social development as a result of the school's reluctance to give in.

"From a parent's point of view, I see a team of people who do not stop, they are constantly working and striving to stay ahead of obstacles that seem to permanently pop up."

And obstacles certainly have occurred at the school – in 2000 Ofsted slammed headteacher Margo Barker stating that she was "not effective in setting a clear agenda as to what strategies should be implemented to raise standards more quickly."

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In the report, four inspectors ruled that teachers did not have high enough expectations of pupils and the school offered poor value for money – as a result many parents considered moving their children elsewhere.

Miss Corrigan said: "I was advised not to send my children there and I listened to the concerns of other parents.

"From what Ofsted said, I could see the downfalls but I live in Downing Close and I thought the school deserved a chance.

"The school really has improved, it's a lot cheerier and more organised.

" My eldest seems to have caught up in science and my youngest who is her first year can read, write and spell and is coming along well."

It is for these reasons that last year's Ofsted report described the school as sound and improving although there was still difficulties in recruiting staff.

Margo Barker said: "The school has definitely improved. When the inspectors came in 2000 we had a lot of supply staff and now the staff are more stable.

"The teachers here really are excellent, they know every pupil and are aware of their needs.

"There has been a huge improvement in the children's behaviour as we now have a structured behaviour policy and the children know that there will be implications if they behave badly – there are also rewards if they are good."

It is the behavioural aspects which Ainea Corrigan has noticed so much in her children.

She added: "They are happy and they have manners towards older people, they play well with others and have been taught very good values which is really important."

There are still weaknesses at the school which OFSTED outlined in last year's report such as poor results in English and results elsewhere, below national averages.

Mrs Barker said the school does have a high proportion of children with special needs.

She said: "We have a lot of children with special educational needs – well above the average and so we will never reach the nationally recognised standards but a key stage 1-2 we are in the top 40 percent."

To the 160 pupils at Downing Primary school the biggest obstacle has become money and £4,000 is currently needed to fix their climbing frame.

Mrs Barker added: "Our budget is very tight and the governors prefer putting money into people rather than resources."

Currently the children are trying hard to raise money with a recent disco raising £20 and youngsters selling football cards for small sums of cash.

Miss Corrigan added: "It's just not fair, the school gets something done and then something else comes up.

"It's going to be very difficult, the school is small and the parents just don't have the money."

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