Ormiston Maritime Academy principal to meet parents over Ofsted concerns
AN ACADEMY is to have detailed talks with parents after concerns were raised about standards.
Last week, Ormiston Maritime Academy principal Elaine Davies came under fire when the school was judged "inadequate" by Ofsted.
The report was released following its first full inspection since converting from Hereford Technology School in 2011.
While defending the school, Mrs Davies said: "We have a better calibre of staff than we ever did at Hereford" – which has sparked a furious backlash from former staff and pupils, including former head Jim Cunningham.
They contacted the Grimsby Telegraph and posted more than 50 comments on www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk to air their dismay, labelling the claim as "abhorrent".
The reaction has caused the academy to arrange to speak with parents after Easter, and has denied there was "any intended criticism" in the principal's comment.
Mr Cunningham, who left the school in 2008 after 11 years, defended his former team, pointing out that Hereford was consistently higher than second from bottom in the local league tables – Ormiston's current ranking.
He also highlighted that Hereford's five A*-C GCSE results improved year-on-year from 1998 to 2008, and staff turnover was low, therefore, they were central in improving standards in that period
Mr Cunningham said: "When I left Hereford, I worked with North East Lincolnshire Council on two schools which had been placed in special measures.
"Neither they, nor indeed the previous head teachers of these schools, ever blamed the calibre of staff for their demise.
"The authority was very clear that the problem was always leadership, and particularly the one in charge of leadership.
"I assume that the Ormiston Trust operates by different principles, the implication being that the staff from Hereford were chiefly responsible for Ofsted's judgement on the school being inadequate."
Former teacher Heather Boothroyd, who worked at Hereford for 20 years, said: "Thank goodness I left before Mrs Davies was appointed to Hereford.
"I cannot understand why Mrs Davies has come to the conclusion that the calibre of the staff at Hereford School was 'nowhere near as good as the current staff'."
And former pupil Leon Ward, 21, said: "The school wasn't perfect but I find her reflections on my teachers unfair and am disappointed that she has made these comments when some of them are still employed by the school.
"They were all special and I want them to know that they've had an enormous impact on mine and others' lives."
A statement from the academy read: “The school has made measurable progress since a report in December by Ofsted deemed it as “inadequate”.
“However, following receipt of a number of letters and comments on social media, it has decided to engage with parents following the Easter break and is looking into issues raised.
“The school has also denied there was any intended criticism, in a comment made by Elaine Davies of the quality of teachers at the school under the previous regime.”
Angela Preston, director of education for Ormiston Academies Trust, said: “We wish to involve parents in detailed discussions early next term to investigate the concerns sent to us in various forms and which we take seriously. The monitoring reports from Ofsted since December have gone well and we are very eager to share the detail with them.
“We want to work closely with our parent body as well as teachers and students to raise standards at the academy.
“The principal has said she regrets that a comment she made about the need to raise standards had been taken as a criticism of teachers themselves.
“There was no intention to criticise previous teaching staff, either collectively or individually.
“It was a reference to the need to improve the way we teach and not the calibre of staff themselves.”
In response to an article by the Principal of the Ormiston Maritime Academy, I must make the following points:
1. The records demonstrate that Hereford's 5 A*-C GCSE results from 1998 to 2008 improved year on year.
2. The records demonstrate that Hereford was consistently placed higher than second from bottom in the local
league tables of secondary schools.
3. The records demonstrate that the turnover of staff was low, therefore, the staff remaining at Hereford in 2008,
when I left, were central to the improvement in standards during the previous years.
When I left Hereford, for two consecutive years I worked with North East Lincolnshire Education Authority on two schools
which had been placed in special measures. Neither they, nor indeed the previous head teachers of these schools, ever
blamed the calibre of staff for their demise. The Authority was very clear that the problem was always leadership, and
particularly the one in charge of leadership. I assume from the article published on Friday, that the Ormiston Trust operates
by different principles, the implication being that the staff from Hereford were chiefly responsible for Ofsted's judgement on
the school being inadequate. If so, the Trust is quite a disreputable organisation.
James Cunningham, Ex Head Teacher of Hereford School
Re: Elaine Davies (Principal - Ormiston Maritime Academy), “We have a better calibre of staff than we ever did at Hereford and offer a calm and productive teaching environment”.
I was a teacher at Hereford School for 20 years and Senior Leader for 6 of those years, leaving in 2007 to a promoted post. Thank goodness I left before Mrs Davies was appointed to Hereford.
Mrs Davies needs to look at the on line comments from ex Hereford staff, pupils and other members of the community to maybe realise that her statement was very untrue.
Jim Cunningham was a highly respected Headteacher, respected not only by staff and parents but also within the wider community.
Under Jim Cunningham's leadership the staff at Hereford School, were a very dedicated team of professionals, committed with the support of parents, to raising standards. The teachers and support staff were exceptional and it is worth quoting the latest Ofsted report before Jim’s retirement:
2007: (1 year before Jim Cunningham retired from Hereford) Ofsted described Leadership and Management as follows: The schools’ leadership and management are good, with particular strengths at senior management level. The headteacher is giving both schools ( Hereford and Western Technology School) vigorous and very effective leadership, so the pace of improvement is rapidly increasing. The headteacher and senior management team at the Hereford site are making a substantial and impressive contribution to renewing the school’s direction and sense of purpose. Together they are tackling weaknesses and raising standards through accurate and realistic understanding of the quality of the work at both sites.
Elaine Davies was appointed to Hereford in 2008 and 2 year after her appointment the school still received a satisfactory Ofsted report (2010). However by 2012, Hereford, now under a different umbrella of Ormiston Academy, is in the Ofsted position of ‘ A school with serious weaknesses’
I therefore cannot understand why Mrs Davies has come to the conclusion that the calibre of the staff at Hereford School, was - ‘nowhere near as good as the current staff.’
In my judgement, getting rid of some of the best teachers and senior leaders that I have ever worked with is more likely a contributory factor to the school being judged as having serious weaknesses. Many of these were not only of the highest calibre but were also well known and respected in the Local Authority and have consequently moved on to promoted posts.
I might also comment on the second part of her statement of a ‘calm and productive teaching environment’. Clearly she cannot agree with Ofsted who state: ‘Occasionally learning is interrupted by poor behaviour. This is not always tackled quickly and challenged consistently by all staff. The behaviour and safety of pupils requires improvement’
To say that 'grades have been improving’ since it opened as a new school (2011) may be true but grades had been improving year on year since Jim Cunningham became Headteacher.
It was a little bit depressing reading the news that the rebranded Hereford school has been under performing and put under closer watch by OFSTED. But it was more disappointing to read the current Head Teachers comments about staff performance and talent when it was Hereford. So i thought I would share some reflections of my experience.
I'm in my final year of University so left Hereford over 5 years ago and when I was there the school was under the management of the then fantastic Head Jim Cunningham.
All of my teachers were dedicated, talented and committed. There was mutual respect between different members of staff and respect between the staff and students. It was an example of how to run a good school.
Quite frankly I found Elaine Davies' comments abhorrent and entirely wrong. Obviously, there were issues for improvement but Hereford had a fairly good governance structure and proactive senior management team which provided a platform to lobby for change. By far, the school wasn't perfect but I find her reflections on my teachers unfair and am disappointed that she has made these comments when some of them are still employed by the school.
I'm writing because I want my teachers to know they were all excellent. I appreciated their efforts, talent and support. They were all special and I want them to know that they've had an enormous impact on mine, and others' lives.
Most of them went the extra mile and supported me with my extra curricular activities which have acted as a platform for my current involvement with the third sector; as a trustee of two large charities.
I am in their debt.
I would particularly like to thank, Julie Schofield (head of year), Claire Burton (English and Assistant Head), Sheila Andrews (History), Becky Pickles (IT and Business; now at a different school), Michelle Smiech (Maths), Mike Sadler (Deputy Head), Di Casajuana (Assistant head), Jane Sorensen (Assistant Head) and Gwen, Jane, Kim, Janice, Paula and the rest of the KS4 support unit. I know this little letter won't be enough to express my appreciation for them all.
I hope the attainment and attendance performance picks up, but I would appeal to Elaine not to undermine and criticise the wonderful staff that taught me in a public forum again. If she would like some of my criticisms of the school she is more than welcome to ask for them.
Leon Ward, 21, London.