CONCERNS have been expressed at the timing of a visit to Harris Primary Academy by an education minister “On the same day” as the school was being inspected by Ofsted.
Under secretary of state for education and childcare, Liz Truss, was joined by the owner of the school, Lord Harris and Thurrock MP, Jackie Doyle Price recently.
They were given a tour of the school by executive head, Matthew Britt.
The school’s last Ofsted graded them as “Requires Improvement” but since then has had a new head and board of governors.
The education minister used the visit to support the controversial free schools, such as the one that will open in the Harris grounds in Chafford Hundred in Sept 2014 with a three form entry.
By September 2016, the Harris Federation envisage having a five form entry and there are rumours that they eventually hope to have an eight form entry as part of the biggest primary school in Britain.
Thurrock teachers, who did not wish to be named, have expressed concerns purely on the basis that the visit may have placed a considerable amount of pressure on the staff on what was basically a “triple whammy” of Ofsted, education minister and your paymaster.
For others, the presence of the politicans has threatened to overshadow the outcome of the report. Their central concern is that the Ofsted inspection was not undertaken in normal conditions and in many ways compromised the Ofsted inspectors.
A spokesperson for Ofsted has defended their position.
They said: “Ofsted inspects without fear or favour. Our inspections are robust and rigorous, based upon a clear set of criteria and rooted in first hand evidence. We have a thorough quality assurance process to ensure that our judgements are based fully upon the evidence presented.
“Both the public and Ministers value our inspections because they are independent and impartial. The Minister’s visit at the same time as the inspection did not affect the judgements made about the school’s effectiveness.”
YT sent a series of questions to the Thurrock MP, Jackie Doyle Price. The e-mail was returned with the message: “Deleted without being opened.”