“Listen to the people who run these schools” - Calderdale headteachers lodge complaints over latest Ofsted inspections

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The head of the Trinity Multi-Academy Trust says Ofsted must listen to headteachers about their new inspection framework.

One of the schools under the trust, Akroydon Primary Academy, has been told it requires improvement in its latest Ofsted report.

The school is rated good in behaviour and attitudes and personal development, but requires improvement in leadership and management, early years provision and overall effectiveness.  
But Mr Gosling, a former head of Trinity Academy, has submitted an official complaint to Ofsted for the first time in his career, such is his frustration and disappointment with the inspection.

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Mr Gosling said: “I think some of the areas Ofsted identified we are in agreement with, in some of the areas where we are in the early stages of development and improvement.

School pupilsSchool pupils
School pupils

“Where we are disappointed most is that we feel as though some of the improvements have been remarkable over the last couple of years, we think the school has been transformed.

“Our Key Stage 2 SATS score was 25 per cent two years ago, and now it’s 70 per cent.

“The first meeting on day one with the inspectors, they looked at that and thought it’s such a massive improvement, we must have neglected other parts of the school.

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“We feel we are being punished for prioritising English and maths. But that’s not at the expense of other subjects like music and art.

“The inspectors pulled some children out of a year four class and asked them what they remembered from a history lesson last year.

“If one of them couldn’t remember or misquoted something, which can happen, they gave more weight to that than the fact that results had gone up 45 per cent.

“The new framework is designed to reward middle class schools. But teaching in any school can be good or bad.

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“I’ve worked in deprived schools for 25 years and gone through 50 Ofsted inspections, but I’ve never felt this strongly.

“We have made an official complaint, because the framework is doing the opposite of what it was intended to do. It punishes schools in deprived areas.

“It will make it harder to recruit good teachers because they will choose to work in leafy laned schools rather than deprived schools.

“I’ve already had resignations from the school since the report was published from people who put their heart and soul into the school but been left thinking ‘what’s the point’?”

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When asked what his message to Ofsted was, Mr Gosling said: “Listen to the people who run these schools, listen to leading educationalists about what they are saying about how this framework is being interpreted on the ground.

“I believe the intention was good but it’s going wrong and context isn’t being taken into account.”If this carries on, people are going to walk away and things will get so much worse.”

The report says pupils are happy and safe at the school, and that staff work hard and are committed to improving the quality of education for pupils.

But it says teaching staff do not consistently have the knowledge they need for all thesubjects they teach, leading to gaps in students’ knowledge.

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Inspectors say leaders and staff have made a positive difference in English and maths in key stage 2, but that other crucial aspects, including phonics and pupils’ outcomes in key stage 1, have not seen enough improvement.

The report also says that parents’ views of the school are mixed, with some parents feeling that their views are not listened to, and that leaders have more work to do to build relationships with parents and involve them in their child’s education.
It also says that governors do not hold leaders to account effectively, which has meant that some priorities have not been identified and acted on with enough urgency.

Parkinson Lane school in Halifax have also submitted an official complaint to Ofsted after being told it requires improvement in its latest report.

The school is rated good in behaviour and attitudes and personal development, but has been told it falls short in early years provision, leadership and management and the quality of education.

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But headteacher Gugsy Ahmed said he was “appalled” and “profoundly disappointed” at the way Ofsted conducted its inspection.
Sue McMahon, from Calderdale Against School Cuts, said: “Heads know the effect that the Ofsted regime has on schools, just as they know that schools are underfunded.
“It’s ironic that the Government wants to increase funding for Ofsted inspections, whilst schools have seen a decade long squeeze on public spending and yet schools are left having to redirect their hard pressed funds to address the judgements made by Ofsted.
“Clearly Ofsted needs to take into account the impact that deprivation has on schools, and that schools are now the fourth emergency service, such schools are having to deal with so much more than a school in a leafy suburb.
“Ofsted is failing schools with this blunt model of inspection that favours the few not the many, Ofsted reports need to reflect the challenges schools are facing whilst continuing to be underfunded.”
Ofsted were approached for a comment by the Courier, but did not respond by time of publication.