Teacher outlines vision

A RESOLUTE headteacher today spoke of her determination to pull her school out of special measures before the summer holidays. Anna Hennell James is in the process of overseeing a dramatic overhaul of Halifax Primary School in a bid to remedy a catalogue of problems discovered by inspectors in October 2005.

A RESOLUTE headteacher today spoke of her determination to pull her school out of special measures before the summer holidays.

Anna Hennell James is in the process of overseeing a dramatic overhaul of Halifax Primary School in a bid to remedy a catalogue of problems discovered by inspectors in October 2005.

She was brought to the school, in Prince of Wales Drive, after Ofsted published their findings, which criticised pupil behaviour, teaching quality, achievement standards, the suitability of open plan classrooms and the curriculum.

Schools have a two-year deadline for coming out of special measures and Ms Hennell James, who has sanctioned a number of changes since taking over after leaving Whitehouse primary, said she was confident that Halifax would soon make the grade.

She said: “I'm very positive about the progress we are making and for the future of the school.

“We have addressed the issues that put the school into special measures and our last monitoring report was extremely positive.

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“We are also getting the building sorted which is making a big difference.

“The children are amazing. I don't know how much they understand about the implications of being in special measures, but they just want their school to be sorted.

“Parents have been extremely supportive, too. It would have been understandable if they had wanted to move their children but they have had faith that we are addressing the issues.”

Under Ms Hennell James' leadership, Halifax has been found to have made 'good' progress since the last monitoring report and 'good' progress since the Ofsted report.

Major cash investments have been made to improve the open plan classrooms which made teaching difficult and which were much maligned by inspectors, and new teachers have been drafted in.

Ms Hennell James said: “We need to keep doing what we have been doing and demonstrate that the school has the capacity to continue.

“If we were to come out of special measures just before summer, it would be the best thing that could happen. It would mean we could come back with a fresh start.”

She said the pressure of once-a-term HMI inspections had been a challenge.

She said: “There is a huge amount of pressure on the staff.

“Education is a pressured world anyway and special measures just adds to that. But they are a strong team and have worked very hard and pulled together to get where we are today.

“The staff can see the progress we have made and there is a positive feel about the place.”

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FORMER Ipswich mayor Roger Fern was recruited to the board of governors at Halifax.

Mr Fern has been able to offer professional advice to headteacher Anna Hennell James having worked as an Ofsted inspector.

He said: “I'm delighted with what's going on. Anna and her deputy have provided very strong leadership.

“Children are happy, well behaved and are working hard and the staff are working extremely hard, too.

“To come out of special measures would be a dream come true. A lot depends on the day and how the children do in their SATS but I'm confident we will succeed.”

NEWS of Halifax's continued revival comes after schools minister Andrew Adonis launched tough new guidelines to ensure effective and early action is taken to improve weak and failing schools.

Mr Adonis said: “This guidance to local authorities makes plain that we will not accept parents and children having to put up with second-class education in struggling and poor schools.

“We want to turn round poor schools more quickly and challenge those that are clearly coasting as soon as possible to make sure they do not decline into full failure.

“Where a school gets stuck in special measures - making no progress whatsoever after about a year - then we will need to look very carefully at whether it should stay open. It may be better to close the school and look for new arrangements such as an academy - or to hold a competition for a new body to run the school.

“The numbers of schools placed in special measures - representing the poorest possible Ofsted inspection result - has reduced by about half since 1998. I am pleased with that result, but not complacent. Our aim is to make special measures a very rare event and to make every complacent school a good school.”

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