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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Education supremo told to probe school report

BARROW’S MP has demanded the education secretary investigates Furness Academy’s disputed Ofsted report.

John Woodcock has written to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, saying the academy leaders’ concerns, over what they say is a “misleading” judgment, needs to be urgently looked at.

Ofsted gave the Barrow secondary a notice to improve after judging it to be “inadequate” in its “overall effectiveness”, because maths did not yet reach the nationally expected level.

Academy bosses say it is an “unjust” decision, as under the new inspection framework, the school was judged using a five-year measure of student achievement, at a point when the school had only been operating for two years and a term.

The academy says it “can only be accountable for achievement and provision from September 2009 onwards.” The academy replaced Thorncliffe and Alfred Barrow schools, which came out of special measures, and Parkview which was a local authority ‘coasting’ school. Furness Academy says wide-ranging improvements already made across the school, and projected sustained improvements, including in maths, were not recognised.

The report was published on Wednesday evening after being delayed due to the academy’s complaint to Ofsted, which was also sent to Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, and Mr Gove.

A High Court judge heard an injunction application to stop the report being published as it stands on Tuesday. It was not granted, but the judge, Mr Justice Collins, said the key inspection judgments made in January were “untrue and unfair”, and said in all areas other than maths the academy was at least satisfactory and in many ways good.

The judge required Ofsted to provide a covering letter with the report making it clear that, but for maths, the academy would have been judged satisfactory.

Mr Woodcock is still waiting for a response from Mr Gove after writing to him last month.

He said: “It was a serious issue that they (Furness Academy leaders) raised and it needs urgent investigation.

“It’s disappointing that I have not had a reply.

“Parents look to Ofsted as an important measure of a school’s performance. It’s very important that any school takes its assessment seriously, but the principal of Furness Academy has raised important issues with this Ofsted report which I have written to Michael Gove about asking that he urgently investigates. A number of weeks on that request has not been adhered to.”

Furness Academy received a response from an academy policy representative who pointed out that a complaint was in place with Ofsted, and that Ofsted is non-ministerial.

Principal Douglas Blackledge said: “The governing body is currently considering it’s position with regard of what may or may not happen once the official complaints mechanism has reached its conclusion.”

Some people have questioned the cost of the legal action.

Mr Blackledge said: “The legal cost is very small and in no way jeopardises the quality of provision to students.

“The governors decided the action to be essential and wholly justifiable to protect the academy’s reputation and commercial interest all of which is to protect students’ education provision and resources in the future.”

Ofsted would make no further comment other than that a hearing took place.

Have your say

So we get an Academy no one wants, a Principal no one wants and a School on a site that no one wants....and what does our MP do. Nothing apart from complain about OFSTED procedures. What a shame that one of the small number of Governors is politically motivated and seems frightened to criticise the School for its failures.
Please get involved Mr Woodcock by all means but for the right reasons.

Posted by Tom on 25 March 2012 at 18:36

Is anyone noticing a common element to all of these comments? Mr Blackledge is systematically worsened many aspects of Barrow's community school. He can never admit he is wrong. Over a number of years many of my child's best teachers have been 'removed' because they decided to challenge his policies. When the website which allowed free speech became to truthful that was forcibly removed by Mr Blackledge and his legal team and now he is taking on Ofsted! This man is power crazed and as far away from his school's moto of "respect, responsibilty and cooperation" as you can get!

Posted by Parent on 22 March 2012 at 09:28

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