Ofsted ‘did not cut me any slack over my mum’s death’ says head of St Mary's School, Boston Avenue, Southend

St Mary's Primary School

St Mary's Primary School

First published in Southend by , Senior reporter

A HEADTEACHER says her school’s disappointing report was partly down to the death of her mother – and claims Ofsted refused to give her a break because of it.

St Mary’s Church of England Primary School, in Boston Avenue, Southend, was told it requires improvement. Under the old grading system at Ofsted, the school would have been rated as satisfactory, the same as previous inspections.

However, because of changes at the school inspectorate, satisfactory no longer exists and was replaced with “requires improvement”.

Ofsted’s report said the school’s achievement in writing was not as good as in reading and maths. It claimed teaching was not consistently good and key stage 2 achievement was not high enough.

Headteacher Frances Neil said her mother died just before the inspectors visited.

She said: “Having notification of an Ofsted inspection so shortly after her death and before her funeral could be held was very difficult personally and Ofsted refused to defer the inspection, which I requested.

“Although I am anxious this is not seen as an excuse, it did mean this was a difficult time for me, my colleagues and other staff who know me well.

“As a church school, we are a close family and supportive of each other at such times.”

However, Ofsted disputes her claims. A spokesman said: “Ofsted has a published process for schools to formally request inspection deferrals.

“While the inspection team for St Mary’s was made aware of and was sensitive to the headteacher’s personal circumstances, the headteacher did not request to defer.

“She was indeed happy for the inspection to go ahead.”

The inspectors praised the school in a number of areas, including enabling good spiritual, social and moral development of pupils, the headteacher’s work with the governing body and pupils’ behaviour and safety.

Comments (14)

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6:39pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Minceir. says...

I fail to see how the head teacher's unfortunate circumstances and loss could have had any significant affect on the overall standards examined by the inspectors.
I fail to see how the head teacher's unfortunate circumstances and loss could have had any significant affect on the overall standards examined by the inspectors. Minceir.
  • Score: 29

6:43pm Wed 19 Feb 14

RochfordRob says...

Minceir. wrote:
I fail to see how the head teacher's unfortunate circumstances and loss could have had any significant affect on the overall standards examined by the inspectors.
You beat me to it. Even in her own words...........

“Although I am anxious this is not seen as an excuse, it did mean this was a difficult time for me"

I imagine the school was doing badly regardless of the health and well being of the poor deceased before, during or after the inspection.
[quote][p][bold]Minceir.[/bold] wrote: I fail to see how the head teacher's unfortunate circumstances and loss could have had any significant affect on the overall standards examined by the inspectors.[/p][/quote]You beat me to it. Even in her own words........... “Although I am anxious this is not seen as an excuse, it did mean this was a difficult time for me" I imagine the school was doing badly regardless of the health and well being of the poor deceased before, during or after the inspection. RochfordRob
  • Score: 21

8:14pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Almeda11 says...

RochfordRob wrote:
Minceir. wrote: I fail to see how the head teacher's unfortunate circumstances and loss could have had any significant affect on the overall standards examined by the inspectors.
You beat me to it. Even in her own words........... “Although I am anxious this is not seen as an excuse, it did mean this was a difficult time for me" I imagine the school was doing badly regardless of the health and well being of the poor deceased before, during or after the inspection.
I agree with both your comments and Minceirs, it shouldn`t have made a difference. However, the question now is " who`s version of events do you believe?" l personally believe the head teachers. l don`t think anyone would make something like that up, she also knew it wouldn`t have made a difference, and her mother had just died.

lf her version is the true one then l think Ofstead were heartless b`s not to allow her to defer, it could easily have taken place after the funeral.

When my then GP`s mother died some years ago she was allowed one months compassionate leave, this did not happen in her case as ofstead had no compassion or understanding.

There isn`t just academic intelligence, there is also social, and emotional intelligence and ofstead were definitely lacking in those last two.
[quote][p][bold]RochfordRob[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Minceir.[/bold] wrote: I fail to see how the head teacher's unfortunate circumstances and loss could have had any significant affect on the overall standards examined by the inspectors.[/p][/quote]You beat me to it. Even in her own words........... “Although I am anxious this is not seen as an excuse, it did mean this was a difficult time for me" I imagine the school was doing badly regardless of the health and well being of the poor deceased before, during or after the inspection.[/p][/quote]I agree with both your comments and Minceirs, it shouldn`t have made a difference. However, the question now is " who`s version of events do you believe?" l personally believe the head teachers. l don`t think anyone would make something like that up, she also knew it wouldn`t have made a difference, and her mother had just died. lf her version is the true one then l think Ofstead were heartless b`s not to allow her to defer, it could easily have taken place after the funeral. When my then GP`s mother died some years ago she was allowed one months compassionate leave, this did not happen in her case as ofstead had no compassion or understanding. There isn`t just academic intelligence, there is also social, and emotional intelligence and ofstead were definitely lacking in those last two. Almeda11
  • Score: 4

8:47pm Wed 19 Feb 14

stopmoaning1 says...

Sad to hear about the loss of her mother, but if she was running a failing school, it would have made no difference if the inspection was after the funeral.
Very sad that she's using this as an excuse for the school's failures
Sad to hear about the loss of her mother, but if she was running a failing school, it would have made no difference if the inspection was after the funeral. Very sad that she's using this as an excuse for the school's failures stopmoaning1
  • Score: 12

9:52pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Almeda11 says...

stopmoaning1 wrote:
Sad to hear about the loss of her mother, but if she was running a failing school, it would have made no difference if the inspection was after the funeral. Very sad that she's using this as an excuse for the school's failures
I think you`re missing the point completely

She knew she was running a " failing" school, although the definition had recently been changed, (before it was rated as " satisfactory" now it`s " needs improvement! )
But, it would have been far less stressful, and far kinder to give her the space and time, not only to prepare for and attend her dear mother`s funeral, in peace without thoughts of ofstead on her mind, and then afterwards to have a short time away.
That is just basic compassion as well as common sense, and in my book ofstead had neither!! so shame on them for their lack of empathy!!
[quote][p][bold]stopmoaning1[/bold] wrote: Sad to hear about the loss of her mother, but if she was running a failing school, it would have made no difference if the inspection was after the funeral. Very sad that she's using this as an excuse for the school's failures[/p][/quote]I think you`re missing the point completely She knew she was running a " failing" school, although the definition had recently been changed, (before it was rated as " satisfactory" now it`s " needs improvement! ) But, it would have been far less stressful, and far kinder to give her the space and time, not only to prepare for and attend her dear mother`s funeral, in peace without thoughts of ofstead on her mind, and then afterwards to have a short time away. That is just basic compassion as well as common sense, and in my book ofstead had neither!! so shame on them for their lack of empathy!! Almeda11
  • Score: -3

9:57pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Almeda11 says...

stopmoaning1 wrote:
Sad to hear about the loss of her mother, but if she was running a failing school, it would have made no difference if the inspection was after the funeral. Very sad that she's using this as an excuse for the school's failures
I missed out a bit "so shame on them for their lack of empathy and, common decency.!!
[quote][p][bold]stopmoaning1[/bold] wrote: Sad to hear about the loss of her mother, but if she was running a failing school, it would have made no difference if the inspection was after the funeral. Very sad that she's using this as an excuse for the school's failures[/p][/quote]I missed out a bit "so shame on them for their lack of empathy and, common decency.!! Almeda11
  • Score: 3

9:58pm Wed 19 Feb 14

profondo asbo says...

unprofessional. no need to make any reference to her mother.
unprofessional. no need to make any reference to her mother. profondo asbo
  • Score: 6

10:14pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Almeda11 says...

profondo asbo wrote:
unprofessional. no need to make any reference to her mother.
People aren`t themselves when they`ve lost someone close to them, unprofessional or professional doesn`t come into it.

Have you ever lost someone who meant the world to you? l hope not, you sound quite unfeeling, and very " correct" on how things SHOULD be done, but life isn`t like that and this was an emotional time for her, and for anyone who loses anyone who meant something.
[quote][p][bold]profondo asbo[/bold] wrote: unprofessional. no need to make any reference to her mother.[/p][/quote]People aren`t themselves when they`ve lost someone close to them, unprofessional or professional doesn`t come into it. Have you ever lost someone who meant the world to you? l hope not, you sound quite unfeeling, and very " correct" on how things SHOULD be done, but life isn`t like that and this was an emotional time for her, and for anyone who loses anyone who meant something. Almeda11
  • Score: 6

10:24pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Kim Gandy says...

The loss of a parent is devastating, as I well know. However, an OFSTED inspection is comprehensive and covers all aspects of the staff and school. I can't see how the headmistress's grief could have affected the performance of her staff.
The loss of a parent is devastating, as I well know. However, an OFSTED inspection is comprehensive and covers all aspects of the staff and school. I can't see how the headmistress's grief could have affected the performance of her staff. Kim Gandy
  • Score: 18

10:44pm Wed 19 Feb 14

profondo asbo says...

any head worth their salts would not bring their personal life into this. unless of course that head is not up to the job...
any head worth their salts would not bring their personal life into this. unless of course that head is not up to the job... profondo asbo
  • Score: 9

11:23pm Wed 19 Feb 14

emcee says...

What on earth would a diferral have acheived (other than allowing time for bad aspects to be swept under the carpet). If the school needs improving, it needs improving. The death of the head's mother would not change that one bit and it is such a poor call to even add it to the equation.
If the OFSTED inspection was unannounced (as they all should be in order to obtain a true snapshot of schools) the outcome would not have not been any different, and could quite easily have been worse, so why make such an issue.
What on earth would a diferral have acheived (other than allowing time for bad aspects to be swept under the carpet). If the school needs improving, it needs improving. The death of the head's mother would not change that one bit and it is such a poor call to even add it to the equation. If the OFSTED inspection was unannounced (as they all should be in order to obtain a true snapshot of schools) the outcome would not have not been any different, and could quite easily have been worse, so why make such an issue. emcee
  • Score: 13

8:10am Thu 20 Feb 14

E.C.M. says...

Belligerent ghouls,
Run Manchester schools.
Spineless swines,
Cemented minds!

(Morrissey 1985)

Could the same be said of Ofsted (Overpaid F***ers Shafting Teachers Every Day) Inspectors in Essex?!
Belligerent ghouls, Run Manchester schools. Spineless swines, Cemented minds! (Morrissey 1985) Could the same be said of Ofsted (Overpaid F***ers Shafting Teachers Every Day) Inspectors in Essex?! E.C.M.
  • Score: -2

8:57am Thu 20 Feb 14

profondo asbo says...

E.C.M. wrote:
Belligerent ghouls,
Run Manchester schools.
Spineless swines,
Cemented minds!

(Morrissey 1985)

Could the same be said of Ofsted (Overpaid F***ers Shafting Teachers Every Day) Inspectors in Essex?!
no
[quote][p][bold]E.C.M.[/bold] wrote: Belligerent ghouls, Run Manchester schools. Spineless swines, Cemented minds! (Morrissey 1985) Could the same be said of Ofsted (Overpaid F***ers Shafting Teachers Every Day) Inspectors in Essex?![/p][/quote]no profondo asbo
  • Score: 5

11:23am Wed 26 Feb 14

Bester says...

"Ofsted’s report said the school’s achievement in writing was not as good as in reading and maths."

So, if the headteacher's mother hadn't passed away when she did, the school's ability to teach writing would have been better? Utter nonsense!

I understand her mother's death may have impeded her ability to prepare for the visit, but it surely would have had no impact on the overall ability of the school.
"Ofsted’s report said the school’s achievement in writing was not as good as in reading and maths." So, if the headteacher's mother hadn't passed away when she did, the school's ability to teach writing would have been better? Utter nonsense! I understand her mother's death may have impeded her ability to prepare for the visit, but it surely would have had no impact on the overall ability of the school. Bester
  • Score: 1

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