Flight is higher than suggested;Letter

18th June 1999 at 01:00
YOUR article "Phoenix must fly higher" (TES, June 4) significantly understates the positive judgments made by the Office for Standards in Education.

When commenting on teaching the facts are unfortunately misrepresented. The reference to unsatisfactory teaching referred to Year 8 pupils where only 80 per cent of the lessons were judged to be satisfactory or better. Teaching was judged to be 89 per cent at least satisfactory and 60 per cent good or better.

Other important judgments of the OFSTED report were not referred to at all. For example:

* The school has a large number of good teachers.

* School improvement is well planned.

* Very good provision is made for students' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

* Very good provision is made for students with special educational needs and those who have English as an additional language.

* The school has placed a high priority on developing effective systems for assessment. From being a weakness in the last report, assessment is now a strength of the school.

* The school community provides a very good example of the importance of an orderly society. The school is a fair and just community, and this helps students learn to value justice.

The decision not to teach modern foreign languages in Year 10 was taken because we have been unable to recruit staff of the right calibre and rather than force students to take a subject that would be covered by a succession of non-specialist teachers we decided to put the educational needs of the students first.

The article unfortunately makes no reference to the very significant contribution made by the governors. The inspectors wrote "governors are effective in carrying out their duties. They have sharpened their working practices and are focused on school improvement".

Finally, the report states: "The headteacher, senior management team and governors use all the resources available to them very efficiently. This represented a very significant improvement since the last report."

Despite the obvious failing of the OFSTED framework the inspectors nevertheless were able to capture a good deal of our achievements over the past four years. The journey continues . . .

William Samuel Atkinson


Phoenix high school

The Curve, London W12

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