Report slams former head

PUBLISHED: 19:00 08 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:53 03 March 2010

A NEW headteacher today said he had great confidence in the future of his Ipswich primary school – as an Ofsted team identified "serious weaknesses" under the previous head.

A NEW headteacher today said he had great confidence in the future of his Ipswich primary school – as an Ofsted team identified "serious weaknesses" under the previous head.

Acting head Richard Cove took over at Handford Hall in Gatacre Road this term following the sudden departure of former head Shelagh Cohen.

Today he paid tribute to the dedication and commitment of teachers and support staff, and said: "The mood is one of wanting to get on with the job of tackling the key issues."

And he stressed that inspectors had been more than satisfied with teaching at the school, with all lessons observed being graded as very good, good or satisfactory.

An Ofsted team visited the 250-pupil school in March. Just weeks later Mrs Cohen took early retirement, giving only two days notice to staff, parents and governors.

Today she comes under fire in the Ofsted report, which points to "serious weaknesses in the headteacher's leadership and management", centred on her failure to develop a good working partnership with school governors.

The report says this has led to some dissatisfied parents removing children from the school.

Inspectors also point to a "very high level" of fixed-term exclusions, involving a small number of pupils with behaviour problems, and an unsatisfactory level of attendance.

However, there are many positive comments in the report, which praises

n Achievement of higher-attaining pupils in maths

n Strength of provision, good teaching and management when children first start school in nursery and reception classes

n Good support for pupils learning English as an additional language, allowing them to make good progress

n Good support for pupils from the teaching assistant team

Acting headteacher Mr Cove said it was clear from the report that an effective monitoring system was needed to assess pupil progress, and work was already being done on this.

He said attendance had been hit by too many families taking holidays in term-time, and a letter about this would be going out to parents.

On the subject of exclusions, he said that most involved a small number of children.

"I have spoken to the pupils and their parents and we have put into practice measures which are designed to minimise disruptive behaviour."

The governing body is now drawing up the action plan, which will detail how improvements will be brought about.

Teresa Marrable, chairman of the governors, said they were working well with Mr Cove, who has been head of Clifford Road Primary since 1985. "He is very good," she said.

Mrs Marrable said the school was currently advertising for a new permanent headteacher.

"The governors were very pleased that the teaching got such a good report, with 100 per cent of lessons satisfactory or above – that's fantastic. We were also very proud of the children themselves. Most are very well-behaved, friendly and supportive of each other."

The Evening Star has made requests to speak to Mrs Cohen, via the school and the education authority, but has been unable to contact her.

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