Head raises concerns over Ofsted inspection

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A headteacher given a ‘requires improvement’ grading following his school’s latest Ofsted report has hit out at the way the inspection was carried out.

Colin Gynn, headteacher at Bracken Leas Primary School in Brackley, has raised ‘grave concerns’ about the inspection.

He said: “We were concerned about the conduct of the inspection as in the schedule for observing lessons did not follow the guidance for Ofsted.

“They did not focus on the lessons that normally would be expected to be seen.

“We were very disappointed and concerned about the outcomes of the original inspection.”

Mr Gynn has led the school for the past six years and had previously received a ‘good’ grading in 2009. The school was given an interim inspection in 2012 – where exam results, pupil attendance and progress are looked at – after which parents were told the school had sustained its performance.

In 2012 Ofsted changed the wording of its gradings, updating grade three, previously satisfactory, to requires improvement. Bracken Leas was inspected in January this year and judged to be ‘requiring improvement’.

An inspectors’ report included findings that teaching was not consistently good throughout the school and pupils were not making better than expected progress. However pupil safety arrangements were singled out as outstanding as well as their behaviour and politeness. The pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development was also well catered for.

A follow-up monitoring inspection visit at the end of March congratulated the school on its progress.

Mr Gynn said: “The HMI [Her Majesty’s Inspector] was very positive about the school and shared our view of the school and I think we as a school will be looking forward to our next inspection. We were quite upset about the outcome of our original inspection. We have had meetings with parents to share our concerns. We have an excellent reputation locally and we were not expecting that.”

Mr Gynn added he had spoken to the local authority which he said shared the view that it is a good school.

The monitoring inspector found pupil assessments pointed to a marked improvement in their achievement compared to the previous year’s results. She added strong teaching and evidence from assessment data showed that Bracken Leas was close to being a ‘good school’.

Bracken Leas will be inspected again within five school terms.

Two other schools have been graded as ‘requires improvement’ following inspections earlier this year.

Lucy Burman, headteacher at Blakesly CofE Primary School said she was satisfied with the way the inspection was completed.

She said: “I am really pleased with the fact that our improvements have been recognised and we are making rapid progress.”

When inspectors visited the school in January among other things they found good leadership and pupils reaching expected progress in reading and writing. Pupils also had a good understanding of safety.

But it found maths standards to be lower than those for reading and writing and the quality of teaching was not consistently good.

A follow-up inspection reported effective action was being taken to tackle the issues highlighted. The school expects to be inspected again before the end of 2015.

Greens Norton CofE Primary School was also visited by inspectors in January. Their report highlighted areas for improvement including progress and below average results in maths. Too few pupils exceeded expected progress in writing and teaching assistants were not used efficiently.

A number of strengths were recognised including the new headteacher Helen Smith who has united the school community. Standards in year two and reception have risen and pupils’ behaviour is good.

A follow-up inspection has not yet been completed.