A LEADING campaigner has branded as “lazy and contradictory” an Ofsted report that could lead to the closure of a rural school.
Allendale Middle School in Northumberland is being recommended for closure next year in the wake of the critical Ofsted assessment.
But parish councillor Marc Hydleman, who works in education, is questioning the validity of the summer report, which criticised teaching and learning standards at the 137-pupil school.
Northumberland County Council has proposed closure and a reshuffle of the schools in the Haydon Bridge Partnership, which would effectively reintroduce a controversial two-tier education system in the area. An academy is also a possible option.
Now Coun Hydleman has sent a hard-hitting email message to Ofsted, claiming the “poorly written” report has serious consequences for the local community.
“The inspection report is poorly written, failing to quantify numbers and thus making points invalid, the councillor said. “Phrases such as ‘a small number of parents’ and ‘a significant minority’ could mean only one or two parents. The report contradicts itself commenting on behaviour and many comments point to satisfactory teaching.
“Therefore, the bottom ‘4’ grading for behaviour and quality of teaching is misplaced from the evidence that the inspectors witnessed.”
Coun Hydleman, a former relief teacher at the middle school, claimed there had been “a severe lack of support” from the local education authority for current headteacher Susan Hickey.
In 2010, Ofsted brought the school out of the previous year’s special measures regime.
“The new report does not reflect any of this history,” Coun Hydleman added. “The school should be given a clear programme to work towards.
“How can it be that the neighbouring first school can be so successful with outstanding results and yet the middle school is so poor?
“Could the answer be as simple as developing the structures in place at the first school for use at the middle school, perhaps bringing the two schools together to operate full-time education for four-to-13-year-olds at Allendale? I seriously question the validity of many of the comments in the Ofsted report as they are not quantified, and so become meaningless.
“I feel that this has been a lazy inspection and the report has been written in such a way that it can be interpreted in a variety of ways.”
Ofsted has acknowledged the receipt of the email and said it will make a full reply in due course.
Coun Hydleman said: “I do not see how an academy in such a rural area could work, and federating of the two Allendale schools would be my favoured option.”
How can it be that the neighbouring first school can be so successful and yet the middle school is so poor?