Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sidegate – a school to be proud of.

At the end of 2012, Sidegate Primary School in Ipswich faced an Ofsted inspection. Many of you will have already heard the results. Perhaps because you are a parent with children at the school or through neighbours or from even reading about the results in the ‘Ipswich Star’
There is no way of hiding the fact – it was not a great report – it is not nice to be told that your local community school is described as ‘Inadequate’.

I have been a governor at the school for over four years and have seen over that time the work that has been put in by the leadership team at the school, the teachers, support staff and most of all the pupils. But still the results were not what we hoped for.

It would easy to just become defensive and blame the inspection system but even if the system is flawed (and it is) we are stuck with it. When you find out that the Ofsted inspection team are run by SERCO, it does not give you a warm glowing feeling.

Lessons were just briefly looked at and judgements made after a very short time in the classroom. In the end the school being declared ‘inadequate’ is down to past results. So Ofsted could save money, the school would not have to waste a day being inspected and Ofsted could just write their report in London on looking at past results.

I have total faith in the leadership team at the school to improve the results, and even Ofsted declared that there have been recent improvements.

My own daughter went to the school and has recently graduated from University and hopes to start teacher training soon - and I have no hesitation in stating that Sidegate is a far better school now than it was then.

Sidegate is one of the largest Primary schools in the county but still manages to feel small and friendly; most pupils also seem to have no difficulty in the transition to senior school at either Northgate or Copleston. But this is not what Ofsted is looking at. But from the little experience I have from teaching and instructing in the army not sure how any inspection team can assess the ability to teach in less than 20 minutes in a classroom.

When looking at the results in detail you can see that the majority of lessons were of a good standard or above but of course there is still room for improvement.

I was concerned on Tuesday when at the school that morale of the staff would have been destroyed by this report but when returning Wednesday morning all I found was determination to improve and also to prove that Sidegate is a quality school.

A Right wing Tory blogger took to twitter to attack me for not mentioning the Ofsted report, but it was only right that I did not comment before parents had first received the report and then had an opportunity to question the head and the Governing body. All parents have now received the report and a meeting is planned for this Tuesday. Unfortunately the report became public knowledge after it was reported in the ‘Star’

Kevin Algar was also critical that I had not taken to twitter to criticise the schooll, as he stated that I had been rather outspoken about other failing schools. This was yet another lie from him. I was critical of Tory run Suffolk County Council who found themselves in the bottom three of English counties when it came to primary schools in England not any individual school. Sidegate will get great support from the County through the School Improvement Team but they are handicapped by the Tory cabinet treating education as a low priority with at least two of the Tory cabinet more interested in getting more Free Schools and pleasing Gove than improving the schools they are meant to be responsible for.

But now is not a time for blaming the school, the county of even Ofsted and Gove – it is a time to get behind all the staff and getting the results that will show Sidegate is the great school that most of us already know.

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