Rochford school challenges ‘disappointing’ Ofsted report after teaching rated poorly

Leaders of a Rochford primary school have slammed a recent Ofsted report as “confused” and “disappointing” after the school was rated ‘requires improvement’ based on the quality of its education.

Waterman Primary School was inspected last November and assessed against the regulatory body’s rigorous Education Inspection Framework (EIF). The school was awarded a rating of ‘good’ in all areas except for quality of education, for which it was rated ‘requires improvement’. This affected its overall status.

Due to school leaders filing a formal complaint regarding the inspection report, saying that the inspection team was poorly prepared for its visit and that its conduct and professionalism were less than satisfactory, the report was not made publicly available until February 12.

In a statement provided to LDRS, the Waterman Primary School team said: “Waterman Primary is a good school. In 2023 Year 6 pupils achieved in line with, or better than, other pupils nationally despite the very small numbers in each cohort. This reflects the high-quality curriculum and teaching provided to all children.

“As everyone will know, Ofsted has come under heavy criticism in recent years for its lack of knowledge of small schools, poor inspection practice, and the abuse of its own code of conduct impacting on staff well-being and staff retention. We experienced all of these on this inspection and formally complained.”

The school’s response continues, stating that “the report itself is confused and contradicts itself several times. It says “staff quickly address any misunderstandings so that pupils do not fall behind,” highlighting this as a strength and then adds “staff do not pick up on misconceptions” as an area for development.

“This is because the team did not take time to gather an appropriate, clear and detailed evidence base or allow the right staff into meetings with inspectors. At times the lead inspector told staff not to speak and refused to look at evidence provided or allow staff to make their own notes of meetings” the school leaders said.

The school added that they “have no respect for, or acceptance of this inspection report”. And that the school’s incredibly small scale should have been treated with caution in accordance with Ofsted’s inspection protocol.

In addition, they described staff changes as “well planned, welcomed and appropriate”, with there being no interruption to leadership or learning.

Regarding steps to take going forward, the statement concluded: “We will, as we always do, continue to improve our offering to our pupils. We have an excellent curriculum for children, fantastic provision for those pupils with additional needs, a robust personal development programme for all children, an outstanding school site with beautiful grounds complete with a swimming pool and a very strong, committed and familial school staff who place our pupils at the heart of everything we do.

“Waterman is an excellent school and we will continue to be, and we will of course continue to develop further. We all support the staff and leadership team in the work they do and want to thank them for their continued hard work and dedication to the community and pupils.

“This Ofsted inspection, sadly, was an unfortunate and disappointing interruption to that work.”

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Emma Doyle

Local Democracy Reporter