A school whose headteacher left months after it plunged two Ofsted ratings has decided to pause recruiting for a new one.
Balfour Primary School was told it requires improvement in December 2017 – and by June 2018, headteacher Marcelo Staricoff had departed.
The governors tried to recruit for a replacement in October, but didn’t attract the right candidates. Another ad was placed late last year, but the governors decided to halt the process while the school works out where it wants to be in five or ten years’ time.
Chair of governors Rachel Cashman said: “The requires improvement judgement from Ofsted last year was a shock at the time for some but we have seen huge improvements in the last few months in the quality of teaching and learning.
“In the first round we didn’t get a wide enough range of applications. Then we went out to a second round. We had already received good SATS results and had the summer to reflect.
“When we were designing the interview process, we started to really think about what we wanted, to really think about the long term future of the school.
“We are really pleased with the job the deputy heads were doing and we knew that against Ofsted plan things were going in the right direction.
“We don’t need to rush, we are in a glorious position where we can do some consultative work on where we want to be in five years and what does that mean for the substantive head.
“Where has the school come from, where is it now and where do we want it to be?”
Among the issues the school is considering are falling birthrates and their impact on pupil numbers, government funding squeezes, how to more fully integrate the infant and junior schools and how the school can work with other city schools.
With the money the school is saving from not having a headteacher in post, the school will be developing a strategic development assessment and options appraisal with the Department for Education accredited National Leaders of Education and Governance.
The current deputy heads Dawn Loader and Sandra Mulholland will continue to act as joint acting headteacher until the summer holidays.
In the report of the 2017 inspection, Balfour Primary School was praised for many aspects of school life but inspectors said that improvement had been too focused on keeping up with curriculum changes rather than how they will affect pupil’s progress in the past.
Inspectors said the school’s pupil premium strategy had not met the needs of disadvantaged children, and they make slower progress than their peers, particularly in writing. The report recommended an external review of the school’s use of the pupil premium should be undertaken.
But it also said that a reinvigorated board of governors and senior team at the school meant it was on track to make the necessary improvements.
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