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Head to quit after safety of children at Burton school is questioned

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 29, 2014

Belvedere Junior School, Outwoods Street

Belvedere Junior School, Outwoods Street

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THE head teacher of a Burton school is to quit following accusations from education watchdog Ofsted that children do not feel safe.

Jean Woolner said an inspection report, which ranked Belvedere Junior School, in Outwoods Street, as inadequate in all areas, presented an inaccurate reflection of the site and that it had confirmed her decision to leave the post in the summer.

The scathing report listed a raft of failings at the school, which has been in special measures for two years, stating that children did not feel safe, bullying was not addressed effectively and that the school’s work to keep children safe and secure was inadequate.

The inspector also reported that a small number of children had walked out of classrooms and that unruly behaviour was common at the school.

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Teachers were also criticised for having an ‘over-generous view of pupils’ progress’, while some lessons were not suitable for abilities, the report said.

But Mrs Woolner said isolated incidents had been used to present an overall picture of the school, and that SATs results from last year had been used to determine pupils’ performance.

She believes the report has derailed her bid to improve fortunes at the school and said she will go ‘where she is appreciated and let someone else have a go’.

“I am leaving in July and this is certainly part of the reason,” she said. “It has clarified it for me.”

Mrs Woolner said the fact the report highlighted children were not safe was what hurt the most.

She said: “That is the biggest bugbear we have. It is just not true. Most of the interviews they had with the children were successful. They had four interviews and in the fourth, the child said that, and what was said was reported and that was unfortunate.

“Everyone from outside who comes in tells us how well-mannered, calm and quiet the children are, so it is disappointing. We feel it is damning.”

The inspector’s view differed to that of the head’s, however, reporting that children regularly witnessed mayhem on the playground, with fighting and bullying commonplace.

But Mrs Woolner said: “All schools have trying children with behavioural issues and these children are volatile and perceptive to different people being around. They picked up on one incident when they saw one child walk out of a class.

“We know we had not done enough to improve last year and we accept that but we are on a journey and improvements take time. Unfortunately, schools are not given that time.”

GOING OUT WITH A BANG - HEAD IN OFSTED BLAST

JEAN Woolner was determined to say her piece on Ofsted before she takes early retirement in July, and she did not hold back.

The Belvedere Junior School head teacher said she believed inspectors are sent into troubled schools to find reasons to support that view and that poor reports were part of a Government agenda to force schools to become academies.

Ofsted said the report ‘spoke for itself’ and that the reasons for the grading were clearly set out.

Mrs Woolner said: “It has forced my hand. There is tremendous pressure on us and I thought we were succeeding, but it seems we are not good enough.

“We carry the trust of the parents and this report does not support that. It just breaks things down, it’s not constructive.

“We are committed to driving things forward but we could not do it the short time we were given. I know I’m good enough.”

The decision comes just two months after Don Smith, head at Paget High School, cited ‘Government interference’ as part of the reason he would be leaving in the summer.

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