Parents gained in inspection;Opinion;Letter

5th February 1999 at 00:00
THE attention given to the former Office for Standards in Education inspector Geoffrey Owen and the ex-head of Hillbrook school, John Harries (TES, January 22, 29), has taken place with little regard for those still connected with the school.

As a parent with children at Hillbrook I was horrified when the 1996 inspection resulted in a recommendation for special measures. I had put a lot of trust into the school and felt betrayed.

It was significant that upon receiving the news of his school's failure, Mr Harries absented himself for several weeks when his shell-shocked staff needed leadership. Upon his return many parents were concerned that Mr Harries seemed to be spending more energy in challenging the results of the inspection than addressing its criticisms.

The following spring I stood for election to the governing body together with a colleague who has subsequently become chair. It was shortly after we were elected by an overwhelming majority of parents in a large turnout, that Mr Harries began his long period of absence which led to retirement.

A follow-up inspection upheld Mr Owen's criticisms but did not agree that the school was failing. Hillbrook has since undergone an annual inspection via the local education authority, and the management structure has been radically changed.

Barely three years to the day since its first OFSTED inspection, the school underwent its second where the significant improvements in expectations, teaching quality, attainment, health and safety, leadership, management and governance were noted Despite the personal and regrettable tragedy of its former head, Mr Owen did the parents of Hillbrook School a great service. Thanks to the hard work of its teachers, support staff and senior managers, Hillbrook is a changed school positively facing the future.

Chris Borges Parent governor Hillbrook school 71 Mantilla Road London SW17

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