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I fell off... and it hurt, ex-headteacher blogs after shock departure

Former Highbury Grove head Tom Sher­­­r­ington: ‘People have reached out and I n

Former Highbury Grove head Tom Sher­­­r­ington: ‘People have reached out and I now know that I’m one of hundreds’

Published: 3 February, 2017
by JOE COOPER

THE former headteacher of Highbury Grove School has appeared to take a swipe at education watchdog Ofsted, just weeks after his shock departure, believed to be related to a damning inspection report. 

Tom Sherrington left after figures showed Highbury Grove was the worst-performing school in the borough for the progress its pupils make after leaving primaries. 

Ofsted’s latest inspection report is expected to be published today (Friday) or tomorrow. There has been an impression among staff that a recent inspection at the school, rated “outstanding” in 2010, did not go well.

Mr Sherrington has refused to comment on the reasons behind his exit, but has shown glimpses of his true feelings towards the school inspection regime via his Twitter account and blog.

This week, in a series of tweets from a headteachers’ conference, Mr Sherrington said he “loved listening” to Stephen Tierney, chairman of education pressure group Headteachers’ Roundtable.

He quoted Mr Tierney speaking about the “career Russian roulette” of taking on schools in deprived communities. He further quoted Mr Tierney as saying: “The data is clear – Ofsted is biased against schools with high levels of deprivation.” 

Mr Sherrington, who styled himself as “Head Guru Teacher” on his popular blog, is no stranger to criticising the watchdog. 

In January 2015 he described the system as “utterly inadequate” and raised concerns that poor quality assessments meant schools “cannot be judged in a meaningful way through inspections”. 

He called for an end to the “whole idea of grades”, where Ofsted stamps schools with labels like “outstanding” or “requires improvement”.

The Tribune revealed last week that Highbury Grove came bottom of a table showing Islington schools’ “Progress 8” scores – the academic advance made by pupils between the end of primary school and their GCSE results across eight key subjects.

Mr Sherrington wrote on his blog: “Sadly, nuances of P8 are already very poorly understood with real-life consequences.” 

He likened the complex process of school improvement to “turning a tanker in a perfect storm”. “Well, I lasted two years and a term. And then I fell off. And it hurt. People have reached out and I now know that I’m one of hundreds. This is our system folks,” he wrote.

The Highbury Grove Ofsted report was to be published earlier this week but has been held up due to “internal administration”, according to a letter to parents from chairwoman of governors Maggie Elliott.

A meeting is being held at the school on Monday for parents to discuss the report. “The school, the governors and the local authority will be available on Monday to answer any and all of your questions, to the best of our abilities,” Ms Elliott wrote.

 

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