8:00am Wednesday 13th June 2012
By Clare Hardy
THE head teacher of a school which was downgraded by government inspectors has defended its standards.
The latest report Ofsted report on West Hatch High School, Chigwell, describes it as satisfactory overall, where it had previously been rated as good with outstanding aspects.
Lead inspector Gulshanbir Kayembe said: “In many lessons, teachers spend too much time explaining.
“Students do not develop their ability to think for themselves and their learning slows.
“Teachers have good subject knowledge and where teaching is good or better, they use this effectively to ask probing questions.”
Head teacher Frances Howarth said the school was among the first few in the country to be judged under new, more demanding, criteria.
“The bar has been raised,” she added. “Of the schools that have been inspected, 50 per cent who were initially judged as outstanding have now been judged as good.
“Similar numbers of (previously) good schools are now being deemed as satisfactory under the new framework.”
She added that the wealth of after-school activities on offer were not taken into account under the new guidelines.
In its previous report on the school in 2009, Ofsted said that in the best lessons, pupils discussed ideas and found things out for themselves, but at other times, teachers focussed too much on their own input.
The school was also one of the first to be inspected in a new style by Ofsted in 2006, when it received positive feedback.
Mrs Howarth said some temporary teachers had been working at the school when it was last inspected in April, but permanent staff would be in place from September.
“We are fully staffed for September and are delighted with the calibre of staff we have been able to recruit,” she added.
Former governor Richard Alvin, who resigned earlier this year over the school’s plans to build flats on one of its playing fields, said it was still over-subscribed, with good reason.
“It should not necessarily be regarded as a downgrade,” he added. “West Hatch is still a very good school.”
The school was granted academy status in February and Mr Alvin said this had been a challenge but would be a massive benefit to the school in the future.
“It’s additional funding and the school is able to go wherever it pleases to buy additional services,” he added.
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