No good comes out of putting schools and pupils down | Letters

Salina Docherty and Dr Jane Poyner say a Somerset infant school has been unfairly rated by Ofsted. Likewise, Jan Shapiro, headteacher of Addey and Stanhope School in Lewisham, says hers is not one of the worst schools but one of the best

Michael Rosen’s article (Ofsted forgets our four-year-olds are not GCSE apprentices, 30 January) strikes a poignant chord with parents of children at a Somerset infant school, who learned last week that the school had been rated as “requires improvement” across its key stage 1 years. Rosen is right to question what we should value in young children’s education. The report was widely felt among parents to be unrepresentative of the good work being done at the school; to be overly negative in tone, even mean-spirited. Ofsted acknowledges our tremendous support for the school and staff, but this is not properly reflected in Ofsted’s findings.

We celebrate the school’s inclusivity, its joyful, warm and fun approach to learning. We applaud the exemplary leadership of the head, with his deep knowledge and understanding of young minds. His staff demonstrate an enthusiastic and tireless commitment to the school, helping to foster it as the heart of the local community.

We are deeply concerned about the long-term impact of the report. With the profession struggling to retain the brightest and best, this is a surefire way of losing gifted teachers; it may well deter parents choosing their child’s first school. We believe our children are provided with a very high quality of education in a stimulating, safe, caring and happy environment.

What more could any parent want from a school? Bravo, Michael Rosen, for raising important questions about how Ofsted measures success and values our children.
Salina Docherty Bath
Dr Jane Poyner University of Exeter

• In response to your article (One in eight secondary schools in England are ‘failing’, 26 January), I write on behalf of all the proud staff of Addey and Stanhope School in Lewisham. We have been named elsewhere as one of the worst schools in London. We are not.

We run a speech and language resource base which provides outstanding education for pupils working below national curriculum levels. Our resource base pupils are included in our school performance figures because they are part of our school community.

Our accurate data demonstrates a positive three-year trend with attainment in line with or above national averages. Our careers and pathways education is exceptional.

56% of our pupils are on free school meals; over 65% of our students’ parents speak a home language that is not English and over 50 languages are spoken by our pupils; we are located in one of the most deprived areas of London. We see these “barriers” not as excuses, but as reasons to be even more proud that we all work here.

Moreover, we don’t “off roll” our pupils to boost results or alter our curriculum as a knee-jerk response to government performance measures. Everything we do is to secure our pupils’ personal ambitions.

Most crucially we ask, what good does it do to our students’ confidence, and in turn their achievement, to be told that they attend one of “the worst schools in London”? This undermines everything we do to provide the route of social mobility that all young people deserve, and which is Theresa May’s stated mission.

The league tables do not say who we are. We are not one of the worst schools in England. We are one of the best.
Jan Shapiro
Headteacher, Addey and Stanhope School, Lewisham

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