GENE BRODIE, Inside Croydon’s schools correspondent, discovers a worrying decline in standards in Kenley
Parents of children at Roke Primary and Nursery in Kenley will be receiving letters in the next day or so revealing that the school has been put on a notice to improve following its most recent visit from Ofsted inspectors.
This represents a stunning decline in the school’s rating, dropping to Grade 4 from the “Outstanding” Grade 1 awarded after the previous inspection, as recently as 2010.
“I’m sure that the council is surprised by this,” a Town Hall source told Inside Croydon.
The news also ought to be a deep embarrassment for local ward councillor, Steve O’Connell, the London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, and for the deputy leader of the Conservative group that controls Croydon Council, Tim Pollard.
Pollard is the Croydon cabinet member responsible for the borough’s schools. He was not returning phone calls from Inside Croydon this afternoon.
On the Roke school’s website, headteacher Caroline Phillips is quoted as saying, “We aim to be at the forefront of worthwhile initiatives, both in staff development and whole school achievements… Our children and their learning are central to everything we do.”
The school has previously been awarded the Basic Skills Quality Mark. “We recognise numeracy and literacy skills are the foundation for future academic success,” the school’s website says.
A year ago, Inside Croydon reported a damning report about the standards of literacy among Croydon’s school pupils, with Kenley being listed as being among the worst areas in the whole of Greater London for children’s reading and writing skills.
Given this, Croydon Council really ought not to have been surprised by the Ofsted inspector’s latest evaluation.
This suggests serious, on-going failings at Croydon Council as a local education authority, which rather than maintain or improve education standards, has tended to off-load “problem” schools to outside organisations willing to operate an academy – most recently at Oval Primary in East Croydon, with no real consultation with parents, and in the past at Haling Manor secondary in South Croydon, where there has been significant improvement since the council gave up its control.
Although Kenley is in the Conservative heartlands of the southern part of Croydon, normally regarded as a wealthy suburb, Roke Primary serves families from a range of social backgrounds.
Recent figures suggest that 21 per cent of Roke’s pupils receive free school meals, while 8.9 per cent have special educational needs.
Under a recent change introduced by the present government, schools rated Grade 1 are not usually subjected to Ofsted inspections unless or until the pupils’ grades have declined.
Explanations for the precipitous fall in Roke’s rating, such as Ofsted inspections being tougher than in the past, cannot account from the drop to a Grade 4. Some insiders suggest that the council’s cuts to support for school governors may have made it more difficult for such bodies to keep as close a check on the school’s performance as in the past.
Riddlesdown Secondary has been formally “supporting” Roke, one of its feeder primaries, since June 1. As only recently having been converted to academy status with only a “good” Ofsted rating, some ask whether Riddlesdown will be in a position to do enough to assist Roke.
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