Parents need to hold their nerve on schools

Westfield Sports College4
Westfield Sports College4
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Firstly, the quango that is Ofsted should be abolished in its present form; it drains obscene amounts of public money, money that could be better spent on resources in the education system.

Next, Ecclesfield and Westfield Schools. I have no doubt that the issues raised by recent inspections have some validity, but the cost of the scrutiny, and the insecurity caused among families and staff are extreme and damaging.

My three children attended Westfield School, spanning 1984-2016, and succeeded.

In that time I observed most staff (not all, by any means) working incredibly hard and conscientiously, from the time of the decaying hovel that was the old site, up to my son’s experiences in the “Exam Factory” under Mr Ireland’s predecessor, a response to Ofsted raw measures (some youngsters were leaving with 20+ GCSEs or equivalent BTECs – pointless, merely helping the school’s league table position).

And loads of young people achieved; much of this was down to the encouragement provided by the extra-curricular programme – drama, music, dance, sport, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, ski-trips, and much more.

Use money spent on HMI and Ofsted expenses and the like to subsidise such programmes.

Parents – hold your nerve.

Get into the schools, ask some hard questions. If you’re not happy, keep asking, enlist the support of your parent-governors, but whatever you do don’t blindly accept the Ofsted judgements.

I taught in schools that were constantly judged as being inadequate or in need of improvement.

Recently I came across two youngsters, who grew up and were educated in the council estate catchment.

One is studying for a masters degree in Japanese studies, and the other is a trainee solicitor.

I have also met countless others whose education in those schools have achieved notable successes in their career paths.

This was largely down to a committed staff team who believed in their students’ potential to achieve academically, and as developing young people.

Parents – engage with your school and, yes, they need to engage with you, but above all, you need to hold your nerve.

Steve Damms

by email