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Saturday, 26 January 2013 07:46

The Sad story of Dover Road Primary School in Gravesham

UPDATE Feb 13: Dover Road Primary has just failed another Monitoring Inspection. Inadequate progress. Quote from "Context": "Since the previous monitoring visit the headteacher has left the school. An interim headteacher joined the school in January and is due to remain until August 2013. The Early Years Foundation Stage leader has left the school. Two part-time teachers are covering a vacancy and a maternity leave in the Nursery class. Two further classes are being covered by fixed-term supply teachers because of vacancies. One of the deputy headteachers is covering a further vacancy in a Year 6 class, created when a teacher recruited in December 2012 left the school in January 2013.Classes in Years 5 and 6 have recently been reorganised into ability groups for literacy and numeracy lessons. The school is pursuing conversion to academy status, which is planned to take place at the beginning of September 2013". How could it have come to this????

dover road 7

PREVIOUSLY: I have just come across a story in the Gravesend Messenger, stating that the headteacher of Dover Road Community Primary School in Northfleet left the school over Christmas. It reports that she has signed a "compromise agreement" with Kent County Council ending her employment and settling any disputes. Presumably there would be a confidentiality clause. A notice in the staffroom apparently warns teachers not to comment on this outside the school at risk of disciplinary action. Of course such agreements are not unusual in themselves, and usually cover a financial agreement for the headteacher to go without a fuss. Dover Road  is in Special Measures, and the tenure of headteachers of failing schools increasingly look like that of Football Managers, but in this case, Mrs Smith had been placed in an intolerable situation by previous Kent County Council decisions, described elsewhere in this website.However, in summary,......

Some three years ago, KCC did not exercise its ability to get a new school built by developers on a nearby estate, as KCC did not wish to damage the viability of other local schools - in my opinion never a risk. At the time, there was no surplus capacity in any Northfleet primary schools, so when the children from the development were looking for schools, a late decision was made to expand  Dover Road Primary by a whole form of entry from two classes to three for September 2011, initially to be housed in additional mobile classrooms over the following seven years. Accordingly, the Planned Admission Number was increased by 30 children. It was unfortunate that OFSTED placed the school in Special Measures at the same time, but a senior KCC officer described the school as "unlucky" with the decision, and expressed confidence they could handle the expansion. Sadly, this has all proved a misjudgement: the expanded school proved unpopular with parents, had to admit a large number of children who did not apply for it and, for whatever reason, was not managed successfully. Interestingly, having fixed the Planned Admission Number of the school at 90 for 2011 entry onwards, the Local Authority has now recognised the error of its ways and returned it back to 60 for 2013 entry. KCC has been criticised elsewhere for chopping and changing its Planned Admission numbers as in previous years  it has made late decisions on pupil numbers in individual schools. However, it is good to report that for 2013 entry, it looks as if it is at last planning ahead with expansions for a number of West Kent primary schools being prepared well in advance. Sadly, this is all too late for Mrs Smith and those children who have had to suffer a sub-standard level of education in the meantime, as confirmed by OFSTED which found progress in moving from Special Measures inadequate back in June. However, the most recent monitoring inspection in November reported satisfactory progress. 

Last modified on Sunday, 06 March 2016 05:53

1 comment

  • Comment Link Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:10 posted by Jane Newman

    This just goes to show how detrimental it is to put a school into Special Measures. Once the school has this label it is very difficult to recruit staff. It is also difficult to retain staff as the environment is very pressured and stressful. Both these factors make progress much harder than it would have been with a more suitable measure of help at an earlier phase.

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