Updated: Friday, 14th August 2020 @ 6:17pm

Oldham primary school on road to recovery after abysmal Ofsted report – five years since ‘outstanding’ inspection

Oldham primary school on road to recovery after abysmal Ofsted report – five years since ‘outstanding’ inspection

By Dan Windham

An Oldham primary school is on the road to recovery after an abysmal OFSTED inspection in June deemed that their standards had plummeted.

Inspectors were pleased with the effective action being implemented to improve underachieving areas in their report this month of Thorp Primary School.

The school had suffered a damning report before the summer holidays as inspectors classed it as ‘requirement improvement – only five years after being awarded an ‘outstanding’ rating.

OFSTED inspector, Allan Torr, stated in his report: “Senior leaders did not wait for the inspection report to come out to start their work to become a good school.

“Leaders swiftly established a clear vision of what improvements needed to be made and how they were going to achieve them.”

Extra consultants were immediately drafted into Thorp Primary School in an attempt to devise a strategy with school leaders and rediscover the school’s former glories.

The report ushered in drastic changes at the school, in particular, a new Chair of Governors being elected after the former leader’s resignation. 

Local Authority Governor, Councillor Bernard Judge, explained: “I’m not sure why the last Chair of Governors resigned as she was very good in the role.

“Maybe she took the review personally. I hope she didn’t because it certainly wasn’t anybody’s fault.

“The new chair of governors is adapting to the role well, even though there is a steep learning curve and a lot of responsibilities to deal with.”

Thorp Primary School received a stunning review from OFSTED in 2008 which showered praise on the headteacher, senior leaders and the quality of teaching of learning.

Based on continually rising standards, the school received a grade one judgement of ‘outstanding’ however, five years later, standards had clearly slipped.

Whilst inspectors blamed inadequate teaching and management for the disappointing report, Mr Judge claimed OFSTED had ‘moved the goal posts’ for their expectations of the school.

He explained: “OFSTED don’t want us to teach the way we have been doing which is sad and keeping a class of 30 interested whilst sat behind a desk is very difficult.

“It’s a shame because we used to teach maths in a practical way, looking at weights, areas, physics chemicals and geography. This was where all the vital skills came from.

“The way we previously had young people learning was great as it was very practical, but we’ve had to adapt our teaching if we want to get back to our ‘outstanding’ rating.”

Senior Leaders have worked meticulously to back up headteacher Stuart Bennett’s boast that Thorp Primary School is a school of high standards.

Mr Bennett explained on the school’s website: “Thorp always aims to be a school of high standards – standards of behaviour, standards of expectation and standards of achievement and attainment.”

Senior leaders ensured that it was not only the pupils who possessed the necessary teaching and skills to reach their targets, but the staff as well.

Teachers received external training on how to teach higher level grammar and on how to transform good teaching of mathematics into outstanding teaching.

Governors were also galvanised into positive action after senior leaders organised an ‘away day’ for them, focusing on the school’s action plan for improvement.

Mr Judge continued: “The first inspection happened just before the summer holidays but the governors immediately went to special meeting to rectify the problem.”

Thanks largely to the immediate action of senior leaders; inspectors appeared more than satisfied all elements of the school are heading in the right direction. 

Image courtesy of Flickingerbrad via Flickr, with thanks.

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