A PRIMARY school headteacher has suddenly resigned following a damning Ofsted report.
Letters were sent out to parents of children at Darlinghurst Primary School, in Pavilion Drive, Leigh, yesterday informing them that Nicky Patrick had “left her post for personal reasons.”
It comes after the education watchdog uncovered a catalogue of failures, ordering the school to improve. Concerns were raised about leadership and quality of teaching.
The report said pupils’ achievements were not good enough and attainment at Key Stage 2 was low. In addition, inspectors found teaching at the school, which was previously rated as good, was inconsistent.
The school, which has 682 pupils aged three to 11, is now overseen by the Legra Academy Trust.
Bev Williams, chief executive of the trust, which also includes Belfairs Academy and Cecil Jones Academy, said an improvement plan is already in place. Emma Nicholls has been drafted in as acting headteacher.
She said: “One of the areas highlighted by Ofsted is the leadership and that is being addressed. Obviously there are some other small tweaks to be made, but not across all the school. We also have a comprehensive action plan which will move us up to excellent as rapidly as possible.
“We will turn the school round in six months. We will do whatever it takes. Whatever we have been asked to do can be fixed. We’ve got some great staff at the school who can turn it round.”
Ms Williams added: “Ofsted gives us 12 months but we want to see rapid improvement in key areas. This requires a forensic attention to detail to make sure all children are making progress. There are pockets of excellence and we need to make sure they are spread around the school.
“Vice principal Emma Nichols will be stepping up as acting headteacher and we are putting in place a rapid improvement board. It is an interim board to replace the governing body for a short time.”
Despite the criticisms, inspectors found the school to be happy with a caring learning environment.
The letter to parents read: “We are delighted that the team recognised this and would like to thank our staff for their outstanding contribution in this regard.
“However, a number of significant concerns have been raised by the inspection team which are now being addressed by senior leaders and the Legra Academy Trust.”
Catherine Howe, from Westcliff, whose four-year-old son Ethan attends the school, said: “My son is in reception class there. He’s only just started but I don’t recognise what Ofsted have said. His maths and English have improved a lot.
“It’s a safe happy school, not just in reception but for the older kids too. Ethan was offered a place in a Westcliff school but I turned it down in favour of Darlinghurst.”
A mum-of-two, who asked not to be named, also defended the school.
She said: “We have never had a problem with the school. I think this report is very unfair. The teachers are brilliant and my children love it there.
“At least they recognised it is a happy school and it is. My children are very happy there. The atmosphere is lovely. I wouldn’t want them to go anywhere else. I feel very lucky that my kids are able to go there. I’m sure whatever problems Ofsted has raised will soon be dealt with.”
Another parent, who also wanted to remain anonymous, had a different view.
He said: “We have got a couple of children at the school who we intend to move.
“The teaching staff are fantastic but most people think the problem is with Legra. They have spent a lot of money replacing red fencing round the school with grey fencing. That money could have been spent on educational trips. The school cycle shed lost its roof and children were climbing on it. I would have thought mending that would be a better priority than repainting a fence.”
The parent added: “The fact that Legra’s chief executive is earning £150,000 is disgusting.
“If the teaching is not what it should be at Darlinghurst I would say it was because the teachers are unhappy.
“Legra has been running it for eighteen months and this is the first bad Ofsted report.”
Michelle Rylands, whose eight-year-old son Sonny attended the school but had to move to another educational facility after developing attention deficit disorder, feels Darlinghurst could have done more to help him.
She said: “The school is fine if there aren’t any problems but as soon as there is they don’t want to know. Sonny is still on the school’s register but I won’t let him go back there.
“I made a complaint because I don’t feel we were given any help at all. I have a daughter there but I’m going to take her out .
“I think they could have done a lot more to help but as soon as you ask for help they don’t want to know.”