Paying price for Ofsted mistake

31st October 2003 at 00:00
Whilst it is cheering to know that Crown Woods school's victory in overturning an inspection judgement exposed Chris Woodhead's shortcomings as chief inspector ("Woodhead admits he was a bad boss", TES, October 10), this may be cold comfort for those who suffered as a result of that flawed inspection.

In April 2000, Crown Woods was a successful comprehensive on the brink of language college status. All students took one of five languages to GCSE with at least 40 per cent getting a C or above. There were five active foreign exchange programmes which encouraged students to continue studies to A-level.

On April 12, 2000 the Technology Colleges Trust came to assess our bid for specialist status and were encouraging. Yet on April 13, the school was put into special measures by Ofsted. The bid could no longer be considered and eight of 11 language teachers resigned in the next six weeks. All trips were cancelled and new staff had to be found in an atmosphere of crisis.

By September 2001, none of the original language teachers remained and not one is now teaching full-time in the state sector, a tremendous loss. This years' GCSE results show just 36 students, out of a cohort of over 300, achieving C or above in a language taught at the school.

Former staff still mourn the loss of a school to which they committed a huge part of their careers. The losers are everyone - pupils, parents, staff, taxpayers - everyone, that is, except a handsomely paid "superhead".

When will this madness end?

Alison Noble (Formerly head of modern languages Crown Woods school Eltham, London) 65 Weston Road Strood, Kent

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