Grounds for a judicial review

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THREE Ofsted advisors looked in on Little Ridge School for just two days and pronounced that it should be in ‘special measures’. here are serious grounds for a judicial review of that decision and others in the locality.

It would be easy for me as a former Labour politician to blame the current Government for apparent recent failings. In 2011 Little Ridge School was assessed to be ‘good’. The latest report suggests that since then there have been improvements in outcomes (although not fast enough).

Even if those comments are taken at face value, how can a school ‘improve’ and move from ‘good’ to being in need of ‘special measures’? It is patently nonsense.

The problem is these lightning strikes by Ofsted officials destroy careers and undermine confidence and one needs to assess as to whether a two-day visit by three ‘experts’ can possibly make such gigantic assessments, or more especially that they have value.

The report goes on to suggest that the pupils are well behaved and courteous and yet criticises the school’s structured approach, suggesting children should have more freedom to do as they will.

Many young people, particularly from some families within our community, need structure and if the outcome is that they turn out to be well adjusted, polite and courteous children then where’s the problem?

I declare an interest, in that I was the first chairman of the governors of Little Ridge (now many years ago) but in the meantime I have watched its progress with interest. Four grandchildren have had the benefit of attending the school, three having moved on- the most recent just this summer- with a fine experience behind them.

There is always room for improvement and surely the purpose of Ofsted should be to identify and support, not to destroy, as in this latest report, not just Little Ridge but, I understand, a number of other schools in the locality.

The testimony of parents lining up to thank Tom Collins, the head who has just left, on his last day is perhaps the better assessment.

My criticism is not intended to be an acceptance of low standards, indeed we would all want to see the pursuit of excellence, but it seems strange that these criticisms across the board should come when the academies are in vogue.

Am I being sceptical when I suggest that schools are being marked down so that the academy cavalry can come to the rescue?

MICHAEL FOSTER

Michael Foster Law

Lacuna Place

Havelock Road