Ofsted heaps praise on former Downhills school. It would have been most surprising had Ofsted’s findings been otherwise. We are pleased that the school has continued its journey of improvement started before it was forcibly academised in 2012. However some staff and parents at the Tottenham primary are questioning the academy’s methods.
A staff member, who prefers not to be identified, said: ‘Before Easter [we] were told that figures had to look better. That they “need to improve”. We were told, cajoled and bullied into “a fake it till we make it” scenario’. The staff member added ‘The continuous school-wide fakery is making education here a mockery. It’s the talk of the staff room. I know how important teaching these children is and that it can’t be for appearances sake only. We must be teaching, not teaching to the test.’
A parent* told us: ‘Parents don’t seem to be so welcome. We used to be invited in all the time but we’ve only been in for one assembly this year. Plus the children have only been on one trip. The school is not as welcoming as it used to be. They’re testing the children all the time and telling me my little one isn’t making the right progress.’
Nearby community schools have improved with local authority support and without the threat of forced academisation and most are now judged ‘good’. Yet the DfE maintains that academisation is the only route available to schools it considers ‘failing’.
The rapidly-expanding Harris Federation’s practice at other schools is also under fire. Parents and staff at Harris Coleraine Park raised concerns about the rough treatment of very young children. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-26685343 Ofsted eventually agreed to visit the academy but staff tell us that Harris Federation had three weeks’ notice of the inspection. Councillors in Croydon have been challenging the Federation over claims that Harris academies are ‘weeding out’ some GCSE students to improve published results http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/11041672.Croydon_academies__weeding_out__GCSE_students_to_improve_grades/
*The parent was concerned that speaking out might affect her childrent affect her children