Absence of senior leaders at primary school saw improvement rate drop - inspectors say


- Credit: Archant

The pace of improvement at a primary school in Somersham - which was without both its head teacher and deputy head teacher for lengthy periods earlier this year - has not been quick enough, according to inspectors.

Ofsted said Somersham Primary School had not improved enough since its last inspection, in 2014, and said that the standard of teaching was inconsistent.

Inspectors did acknowledge, however, that the resignations of both head teacher Paul Woodman and deputy Toby Gooch, in March, following lengthy periods of absence earlier in the year, had been a factor.

The circumstances surrounding the resignations caused concerns among parents but officials at Cambridgeshire County Council moved to quell their fears, stressing that both resignations were for ‘separate and personal reasons’.

In the aftermath of the resignations, two senior teachers were drafted in to help manage the school, Julie Branch, of the Horizons Learning Federation, in St Ives, and Angie Smith, from Priory Park School, in St Neots.

Ofsted inspector, Nick Butt said in his report: “Inevitably, the extended absence of the head teacher, deputy head teacher and another senior leader has slowed down the rate of improvement.

“Staff have not benefited from the regular and robust monitoring of their work that would normally happen.”

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But the inspector added that, since the new leadership team had arrived, improvements had once again begun to pick up pace.

Mr Butt said: “The interim head teachers have very quickly assessed the challenges facing the school. They have identified what it does well and the areas where things need to improve.

“Already, in a short space of time, the interim head teachers have made a positive difference to the drive for improvement and have energised and enthused staff.”

Inspectors recommended that the search for a new head teacher be concluded quickly to ensure improvements could be maintained. The county council said the recruitment process was under way.