BEING a mobile family will inevitably mean that your children change schools – and that can sometimes be to an establishment where the Ofsted report leaves a lot to be desired, writes AFF Education Specialist Jilly Carrell.
But while this can be a worrying time, there are some positive things that can happen as part of the process.
Wallop Primary School in Hampshire, which has around 50 per cent Service pupils, was placed in special measures by Ofsted in November 2014.
Martin Lambert, head teacher, explained: “It’s never good news for a school when it’s categorised in such a way.
“However, schools do suffer from the roller coaster effect where circumstances change and schools slip.”
Army parent and Reservist Tracy Shaw, whose children attend Wallop School, said: “My children were happy, I didn’t want to take them away from the school just because it was in special measures.
“We knew that there would be a real focus and effort to improve the school as quickly as possible and that this could only be positive for pupils and staff.”
The school went through a few interim head teachers, which meant that improvements were difficult. Martin took over in May 2015 and since then has made it his mission to tackle the issues.
He said: “By September, I had strengthened the leadership by appointing a new deputy head teacher and key stage one leader and plans were drawn to develop teaching and learning.
“It was an uncomfortable journey – coming out of special measures always is. A clear and focused plan was needed and all staff had to be 100 per cent committed to develop the school and make it the place we all knew it could be.
“My reasons for taking on a school in special measures were simple. I felt the children needed the best that we, as professionals, could give them to allow them to flourish and grow, and leave with the skills they need to be a learner for the rest of their lives.
“We had to focus our efforts on teaching children core values and making sure that when we talk to them about these values, we begin to see them in action.”
Once Martin had secured excellent leadership in the front office, Wallop School was on the up. He said: “There seemed an added vibrancy and urgency. Like a snowball, the school started to improve and gained momentum. We changed a lot of things – leadership has strengthened, there’s increased communication with parents and better teaching and learning.”
Tracy added: “There were obvious improvements very soon after the report.
“We are impressed with how hard the head teacher has worked to make school assemblies interesting and fun, with a good sense of discipline too. The staff are very hardworking and there’s strong support and respect for the Armed Forces.”
Hampshire County Council supported the school and Ofsted visited every term, granting Wallop School a ‘good’ rating in February.
Martin concluded: “There’s no doubt that we haven’t finished the journey we are on, and there are always things to improve on.
“However, I know we have the staff and capacity to continue along this journey.”
AFF would like to hear about your experiences. Has your child’s school been in special measures? If so, how was the process? Did you feel the school was supported and was in turn supportive to you? Perhaps you have experienced this on more than one occasion?
Email AFF Education & Childcare Specialist Jilly Carrell at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments.