Sinking with the ship 3: Last Man Standing.

They are almost all gone now. The ‘goodbyes’ had to be sorted into shifts and the collections could bankrupt if all were patronised. September will see half of the staff on their first day. A year ago, I was in a department of a dozen (9FTE). Many were long-term colleagues, the most recent with three years’ service. I will be the only one left in September. This is how OFSTED ‘turn round’ struggling schools.

The key middle leaders have all left, unable to withstand the blowtorch of impossible SLT demand whilst living the effect with their teams. They have all ‘downsized’ though one has since been persuaded to return to management. The maths department have turned over again. Even the supply teachers came, went and sometimes returned for encore. This is how OFSTED ‘turn round’ struggling schools.

The SLT retired en-masse. Only one of the previous years cabal was still actively in post by the end of the year. Most hung on for a while to see if they could ride out the storm but over a term it became obvious that they were doomed. Rather than admit inadequate leadership they left for health reasons. They were replaced ad-hoc by supply SLT a thing I had not realised existed! This is how OFSTED ‘turn round’ struggling schools.

This unmanageable mess was enabled by Governors and SLT but the catalyst for chaos was OFSTED. So what of their monitoring? Invisible. After a wander round three months after condemnation HMI accepted the made up nonsense numbers showing pupil progress, looked at the plan of many pious hopes and declared it “fit for purpose” and was allegedly convinced that the carpet bagging consultants would ‘support’ SLT in doubling attainment. Then? Nothing. Six months later when Yr11 were on study leave, when many other pupils were on visits when all assessments were complete, the academic and administrative pressure relieved, they returned. They found behaviour much improved, lessons a little better and (made up) data showing progress. They wrote a pleasant letter and everyone engaged in back patting except for the teachers who remained and knew the unreal, superficial mirage that had been painted and praised. This is how OFSTED ‘turn round’ struggling schools.

One of my friends quit at the end after a decade of service, most in middle management summing up the situation succinctly when I asked if he would miss the old school, “Not really, there isn’t any of it left!”. Next years school will be a differerent institution paradoxically with the same pupils. It will still suffer the ‘Sword of Damocles’ and the new leaders will need to be very nimble to survive. I will help wherever I can because the people who have not been helped by this year of invisible demolition are the pupils, the real school, the real victims of a political agenda unfolded by Blair and exploited ever since. A year ago at ResearchEd14 I listened to M. Cladingbowl say that OFSTED turn round struggling schools. Well not mine, nor any that I know of in my area. This is how OFSTED close struggling schools.

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