Could Do Better…

Editorial Comment

There is a deep divide between the Local Education Authority and the Schools in Thurrock.

If this was a marriage, then they may be only staying together for the sake of the kids.

There have been a few disasters in the past few years but the situation at Chafford Hundred Primary School could be the tipping point.

The school is the only school in Thurrock that appeared in the Sunday Times Top 500 Best Schools List.

But we understand that this school that should be the flagship of the borough is indeed spiralling downwards at a rate of knots.

In many ways the Headteachers of Thurrock schools relish the degree of autonomy they possess that enables them to simply get on with the job. Having said that they have privately fumed at the “appalling” level of communication between Council and Schools.

But what happens when a school is in crisis? What happens when a school is starting to struggle?

The allegation by many is that the Education Department at Thurrock Council is not equipped to handle the short term and long term challenges in Thurrock in 2009.

Where was the Council when Chadwell St Mary Primary under Headteacher Gena White showed signs of spiralling into special measures?

Why was the Council so inert as Grays School showed little sign of improving under Graham Winter?

Why did it allow itself to be run rings round by the pressure group “Chafford Schools for Chafford Children” in 2007?

Once again, the signs were obvious that Quarry Hill was heading straight to special measures. What role did the Monitoring Link Officer from the Council play?

The key key issue now with Chafford Hundred Primary School is where is the Headteacher Mike Lovett and Thurrock Council taking the school. Is it straight to special measures?

In educational matters the Council calls itself the “Listening Council” but the Chafford 7 claim that all their appeals fell upon deaf ears.

Criticisms of the Portfolio Holder Sue MacPherson is that she perceives her role as simply a cheerleader for education. Prepared to make speeches extolling the virtues and triumphs but failing to show a degree of rigour, scrutiny and leadership in moments of crisis.

Education in Thurrock doesn’t need gloryhunters it needs critical support.

It is clear that there are heroes in primary education in Thurrock. Our three part interview with Stifford Primary’s Mark Jones and Sarah John prove that but many others worry that standards are not what they should be, especially from Key Stage 2 boys ( and white boys in particular).

It takes something for seven erudite, mannered professionals as the former Chafford Governors clearly are, to resign, exasperated, exhausted, betrayed and angry.

The Audit Commission will be watching and reading. The Improvement Board also. Which Direction of Travel does this situation take Thurrock?

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