Heads should roll over Cowes Ofsted disaster

Friday, January 25, 2013

 

LETTERS From John Bentley, Cowes:

SO NOW we know — Cowes Enterprise College is an unmitigated disaster.

The recently published Ofsted report rates the school as inadequate and it has been put into special measures.

This comes hot on the tail of the shambles that has seen completion of the new school building delayed by a year. At least the principal had the professional integrity to acknowledge his part in the debacle and resigned.

What of the school governors and trustees of the Cowes Pathfinder Trust, though?

There has been a deafening silence as regards any acknowledgement of their culpability.

Alan Wells, as chair of governors, should take a particularly close look in the mirror.

On October 16, 2012, he wrote to all parents declaring his delight that pupils would be moving into the new building on November 5,

Two weeks later, he wrote again saying that completion 'requires a little more time’.

Of course, we all now know 'a little more time’ actually means 12 months. He clearly never had any grasp whatsoever on what was really going on.

Government guidance on the role of governors states that among the significant duties that cannot be delegated to the headteacher are 'major changes in the way the school is organised’. Governors cannot claim they have no responsibility for the new college and new building — they do.

In particular, they have a strategic role in the leadership of the school — and that was branded inadequate by Ofsted, which noted improvement had been too slow, leaders had been distracted by the building programme and were too optimistic about the school’s current effectiveness and the curriculum had significant weaknesses.

These are all areas where governors have clear legal duties and responsibilities — they have fallen well short of what parents have a right to expect and should all consider their positions. Alan Wells should certainly resign with immediate effect.

However, governors aren’t alone in bearing responsibility for this mess. What about the mysterious trustees of the Cowes Pathfinder Trust? How many people know this, not the council, is the body that actually runs the school? Do you have any confidence in it? More pertinently, do you even know who the trustees are?

Did the public have any say in selecting them — don’t be silly, of course not. It was all a stitch up, the same incompetent crowd who run the council. This is the same council, of course, whose children’s services have also been branded inadequate by Ofsted.

The same principles of responsibility apply equally to them as to the governors. All the trustees, and especially the chair, Rachael Fidler, should consider their positions.

• More letters on this topic in the Friday, January 25, County Press.

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