Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Warren Wood School

I am so disappointed to find that Warren Wood Primary School has again had a bad Ofsted report and been placed into what are termed 'special measures' for the third time in a decade or so.

The first time was a consequence of the death of its former head teacher, Peter Coker, who was so well liked, respected, and a strong positive influence, that his passing dropped the bottom out of the school's world. That happened a short time before boundary changes moved the school into the – then new – ward I was to jointly represent from May 2003.

Thus I came into an existing situation, and tried (very) hard to be supportive but not intrusive. Though I'd be there for every event to which I was invited, such as the opening of the Evergreen language unit, most of what I did was behind the scenes.

All seemed well; and bearing in mind that schools even then were (rightly) becoming less caught up with their local politicians and more independent in general – not that this fact will stop opposition politicians trying to turn this situation into a party political attack, but that merely shows how low and how dishonest those types are – a watching brief was the right approach and I and my two ward colleagues (one of whom was expert on education) were content throughout the years that followed.

As (now) an outsider, and again not wishing to stick my nose in, I really do not know what has gone wrong since – twice more now – but it is very sad that such an inherently good, very interesting, and formerly well-run primary school is having such difficulties.

Indications are that, yet again, it is pulling itself out of the mire, under new leadership; but I can't help wondering how it got there yet again, on this occasion. Perhaps something serious happened that isn't public knowledge (nothing is referred to in the above-linked article, and I wasn't aware of anything).

The only (possible) clue is the line that "governors have been removed" from the school. Now, I have personal knowledge of how Boards of Governors in certain other schools I could mention have been 'stacked' with what might be termed a specific faction with its own agenda, so yes I am well aware that – as with any other body, especially one with voting and/or speaking rights, boards of governors can also be 'rigged', there is no indication that this was necessarily the case here.

Nevertheless, having governors removed is a significant – and serious – step, for whatever reason, so this might at least be an indicator of something more than trivial in this department. One could speculate (and I have a few possibilities in mind) but at this time we just don't know anything of substance.

The bottom line must be to get this valuable school back up to scratch, and more 'solid' than it has ever been before, so that this might never happen again. We can fully understand and sympathise with the original situation back in 2003, so it seems more reasonable to treat this as the second real case of 'special measures' through avoidable circumstances. Let's not have a third instance of that, ever!

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