Sawtry Community College principal quits after damning Ofsted report

James Stewart.

James Stewart. - Credit: Archant

A principal has quit after Ofsted found a secondary school required special measures following a damning report by inspectors.

James Stewart’s departure from Sawtry Community College, after nearly 30 years at the school, was confirmed in a letter to parents on Thursday (July 3).

Chairman of governors Peter Leaton, who thanked Mr Stewart for playing a “major role” in the development of the school, wrote that he had “tendered his resignation with immediate effect”.

He continued: “The governing body is in consultation regarding a replacement for Mr Stewart... For the remainder of this term, the current leadership team will ensure that the college operates effectively.”

Last week, in another letter to parents, Mr Stewart said he took “full responsibility” following an earlier than planned Ofsted inspection on June 4 and 5, following complaints to Ofsted which raised “serious concerns”.

The findings included that the principal and governors had “not fulfilled their responsibility to ensure that statutory safeguarding requirements” were met; some students bully others and the school’s work to reduce bullying had not been successful; systems for monitoring the welfare of students who need additional support were “insufficiently robust” to protect them from harm; the overall effectiveness of the academy had declined; and the principal and governors had not made sure staff felt “valued and supported”.

The achievement of pupils and the quality of teaching were said to require improvement.

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And the behaviour and safety of pupils, was deemed to be “inadequate”.

Inspectors found that victims of bullying were “not adequately helped to deal with it” and the principal and senior leaders did not have “an accurate understanding of how much and what type of bullying occurs”.

Leadership and management was also branded “inadequate”, with just 40 per cent of staff who replied to a survey feeling the academy was well led.

Parents demonstrated a similar lack of confidence in the leadership, with a third disagreeing the academy was well led.

There were some positives, including the sixth form, which was described as good with effective leadership; the quality of teaching of English and maths was found to be improving; and the vast majority of students were said to be courteous and helpful in what was a “calm and purposeful” atmosphere.

A statement released by the school said it was “extremely disappointed” by the report. It continued: “The college does not feel the report recognises the many positive features of life at Sawtry sufficiently.

“Staff are already making significant progress in addressing a number of the issues that have been raised in this report.

“Work is ongoing, both internally and with external agencies, to address other matters by the end of term.

“All that can be done is being done to ensure students now, and in the future, receive the best education possible at Sawtry Community College.”