Portsmouth headteacher criticises Ofsted’s ‘tick box’ mentality

UPBEAT Headteacher Sharon Watt, wiith Sultana Begum, left, and Emily Chandler, right
UPBEAT Headteacher Sharon Watt, wiith Sultana Begum, left, and Emily Chandler, right
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THE head of Portsmouth’s only single-sex state school for girls has launched a scathing attack on Ofsted’s ‘tick box’ system that has seen her school downgraded to ‘satisfactory’.

Sharon Watt, of City of Portsmouth Girls, says she is proud of her staff and students despite slipping a grade since the school’s previous inspection three years ago.

She said: ‘We have improved significantly but Ofsted has measured us by a different set of criteria and none of our good work has been recognised.

‘The Ofsted system introduced in 2009 is much more data and tick box driven, which means we are being judged against national averages for attainment and attendance and not by our rate of progress or by how much girls thrive at this school.

‘On previous visits, we would have up to 12 inspectors over five days who really got a feel for the school – but this time about five inspectors came down for just a day and a half.

‘While I am pleased with the written report that highlights our strengths the overall grading is disappointing. I worry people will see the headline figure and think the school has gone down, but nothing could be further from the truth.’

Since 2008, City Girls’ level of attendance has risen from 89 to 92 per cent, and the rate of good GCSE passes including English and maths has soared from 37 to 47 per cent.

Ofsted inspectors praised the school’s ‘powerful community’ and excellent student development, as well as rising attainment levels and improved attendance. But they identified weaknesses in teaching which resulted in some lessons failing to engage students.

Mrs Watt said training had already been put in place to ensure good to outstanding teaching across all subjects.

But she admitted the inspectors’ impression of teaching was not helped by a large proportion of temporary staff on the day due to eight teachers going on maternity leave.

She said: ‘There’s been significant staff turbulence this term and Ofsted took a snap-shot that wasn’t a true reflection of the quality of our teaching.’

She added: ‘I’m proud of our record for preparing girls for adult life. You can’t measure that purely by a set of data.’