Journal opinion: A bad report - but a good response

The Journal's opinion column for Saturday, February 14, in which we say poor Ofsted reports are not yet a cause for crisis in Northumberland

Dave Thompson/PA Wire Children at school raising their hands
Children at school raising their hands

It’s a little early to talk of a “crisis” in education in Northumberland.

Yet for the second time this month a major school in the county has been placed in special measures.

Ashington High and Haydon Bridge High educate well over 1,500 pupils between them. That’s a lot of pupils going to schools that are not currently up to the mark.

Earlier this month Haydon Bridge High took its bad inspection on the chin. Yesterday, Ashington High did the same. “We have fallen some way short of our own expectations and those of parents,” a statement said.

This is the right response. Last month, Durham Free School and Grindon Hall School in Sunderland received bad Ofsted reports. The report at Durham nudged Education Secretary Nicky Morgan into deciding that the school was beyond hope and had to be closed.

Yet the response of school leaders seemed to be much more about Ofsted and less about their own schools. The messenger was being well and truly shot.

Accepting Ofsted’s criticism gives the schools at Haydon Bridge and Ashington a far better chance of plotting a better future than those at Sunderland and Durham – if the latter wins a stay of execution.

Meanwhile, Northumberland is not an educational basket case by any means. As we report today, schools in Blyth and Hexham have been singled out for praise from the Schools Minister because their pupils make such good progress. And a middle school in Seaton Delaval received an Ofsted report that noted a significant improvement from a previous inspection.

Nevertheless, the reports at Ashington and Haydon Bridge are worrying. Education in Northumberland is now very much under the microscope.

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