Kent Messenger Maidstone

Huge postbag on school issue


Recent events and Ofsted inspection­s at St Francis School prompts a large swathe of views this week

I TAKE issue with your lead front page article on Friday May 24. St Francis is not the first school in the area to have received an Ofsted report of this nature and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Such language as “catastroph­ically failed” and “turmoil” could be properly used to describe the situation when there has been a breakdown in security and the safety of the pupils has been seriously compromise­d. Yet as pointed out in the Ofsted report a strength of the school is that its pupils feel safe and happy while there. Your report goes on to give some context to the situation now facing the school – it is just a shame that this was buried on page 9. Matthew Ellesmere, Hyde Road, Maidstone Editor’s note: Damning comments made by Ofsted inspectors make for uncomforta­ble reading, but the conclusion was clear; the school is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education. Teaching in reception class was singled out for praise, with inspectors citing ‘exemplary’ strategies for engaging children. It’s now necessary to ensure this permeates throughout the entire school to ensure all children are equipped with the best start in life, a decent education. We look forward to revisiting the school when a more positive outcome is establishe­d.

LIKE many past and present parents and pupils I’m sure are feeling somewhat surprised and stunned by the recent adverse publicity surroundin­g the quality and standard of the education provided to pupils at St Francis Primary School. I do not know the full extent of the issues arising and am not in a position to question or pass judgement on the findings of Ofsted, and the subsequent actions of Kent County Council. However, I feel personally moved by the recent coverage of the issues to the extent that I would like to take the opportunit­y to promote some positives about the school. My son attended St Francis Primary school between 2003 and 2010 and was very happy during his time there. I am sure that whatever his chosen career path, his early education and personal developmen­t he received during this time will be of considerab­le benefit as he becomes older and approaches adulthood. I know of friends and neighbours whose children attended St Francis and subsequent­ly attended university and are now achieving considerab­le success in their chosen profession­s. I worked closely with Mr Bray and other members of staff as a member of the Friends organisati­on of St Francis. I found everyone there to be caring, considerat­e and profession­al in their work. I would urge everyone to think about the past positives of the school which I am sure will help drive the commitment to restore the good reputation and quality in the future. John Harmer, Chartwell Drive, Maidstone

MY name is John Jackson and until Thursday, May 16 I was an elected parent governor at St Francis Catholic Primary School in Maidstone. It seems that, once again, your newspaper would appear content to publish a ‘hatchet job’ on a local school, causing additional alarm and distress for parents, who are, understand­ably, already extremely concerned and upset, rather than publish a thoroughly researched and balanced article. I feel you have a duty to mention that Ofsted judged the school to be good in its assessment of the behaviour and safety of pupils – a paramount concern of all parents. Furthermor­e, I believe your report should have made mention of the fact that the Ofsted report also states: “The school meets the government’s current floor standard, which sets the minimum expectatio­ns for pupils’ attainment and progress.” I should also like to point out to you that at the parents’ meeting, Simon Webb, a senior primary education officer with the Local Education Authority informed parents that he believed St Francis school is in fact, “a good school” and added, “pupils’ attainment in the school is good”. If you are genuinely concerned by the vast number of schools across the county that are (allegedly) ‘failing’, then I would suggest you undertake a thoroughly researched piece of proper investigat­ive journalism into the number of ‘forced academisat­ions’ instead of simply heaping pressure on hard working teachers and worried parents. John Jackson, by email

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St Francis Primary School, Maidstone

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