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Ofsted acumen less than 'satisfactory'

We have been the subject of an Ofsted inspection earlier this term, and as well as adding my voice to that of the letter you published from Peter Baker, chair of our local secondary heads forum (December 18), I wrote a letter to Christine Gilbert for which I am yet to receive a reply.

In it, I try to convey the problem that Ofsted leaves us with following a visit earlier this term where, in spite of receiving many "good" judgments, we were rated overall as only "satisfactory". And this is largely because of our English results, which have proved so stubborn against our efforts to move them upwards. We are, as you might have guessed, serving a challenging community with severe levels of deprivation.

The letter the lead inspector wrote to our students contained the following sentence: "Your headteacher, along with her team, is working tirelessly to ensure your school makes your experience in education enjoyable and successful. You can of course contribute to this by attending regularly, practicing your grammar and spelling and working as hard as you can in all lessons to achieve your best."

Some 90 per cent of my own Set 3 Year 11 English students could not only spell "practising" correctly, but also could spell "irony". Sometimes, a smile keeps us going; Ofsted certainly does not.

Mike Kent, page 44

Jan Palmer Sayer, Headteacher, Hertswood School, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.

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