I was saddened by the Ofsted report highlighted in last week’s Chichester Post alleging inadequacy in the performance of Rumboldswhyke Infants School. However, I feel the report may tell us more about inspection and out of school administration issues than the reality experienced by children at this rather good little school.
Within the report it is stated that a high proportion of parents responded to the ‘parent view’ question and that 100 per cent of those respondents were positive in their support for the school and the education provided for their children. This was apparently reflected in pupils “feeling happy and enjoying school”. I don’t think you can fool parents, nor their children, in these matters – if they are happy with “lively and engaging teaching” that’s what they are getting on a day-by-day basis. You don’t get that sort of response when parents generally believe their children’s school to be inadequate.
That doesn’t mean that there weren’t problems at Rumboldswhyke, nor does it mean that action should not be taken. It seems that such a system pretty well sets up any school to face extreme pressure, and almost make for failure.
Of course, this inspection regime should take place within the broader context of a supportive educational administration that actively helps teachers to do a good job. But this doesn’t appear to have been the case. The report states that the head teacher is presently “on long-term sickness absence”. The administrative response seems to have been to get the deputy head teacher to take over the head’s job in addition to their own role – but with “little preparation”. So, one committed professional crumbles under the strain and is “replaced” by another who is expected to do that work as well as their own. I don’t think you have to be an educational expert to guess the likely outcome would be “considerable turbulence”.
But now that the worst has happened – and an” inadequate” report is the worst that can happen to a school’s reputation – is it not obvious that intervention by county and diocesan authorities to ensure support for Rumboldswhyke’s leaders should have been made some years ago? If that had happened, maybe this situation would never have arisen.