Monday, 11 May 2015

The end of the beginning

Image result for ofsted good 2015

"Good things come to those who wait", my mum used to tell me. I was never quite convinced by that particular piece of maternal wisdom. Like "cleanliness is next to godliness", it didn't seem always to ring true. But maybe there was something in it after all. We've been waiting for the publication of the school's Ofsted report since the inspectors came to call in February, with a follow-up visit in April. But now, at last, it's out (see here). Staff were briefed on the report last week. Hopefully parents have received their copy and I hope you've been able to give it a once-over. 

Since Ofsted first visited in 2001 Matravers has only ever been judged a Grade 3 school; 'Satisfactory' in old money, or 'Requires Improvement' as it's called in Wilshaw era. So it's pleasing to note that  we were judged Grade 2, or 'Good' at the most recent inspection. That's quite a turn-around considering the work that needed doing in the school as highlighted in the previous inspection report from February 2013. It is tribute to the outstanding leadership of our headteacher, Dr. Riding, and the hard work of our dedicated staff and remarkable students that things have moved so far so fast. Thanks too to fellow members of the Board of Governors and our clerk for doing their bit. A big well done one and all!

Did you notice the number of times the word 'outstanding' is used in the report, or 'at least good', or the repeated mention of 'rapid improvements', all hallmarks of a Grade 1 'Outstanding' school? There is an old saying, 'If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck and swims like a duck, it's a duck'. But it seems that for now we'll have to be content with 'Good', notwithstanding the many outstanding features of the school highlighted in the report.   

By a strange coincidence the report was published on 8th May, which date also marked the 70th anniversary of VE Day. Over the weekend the nation celebrated the memory that momentous occasion. With the benefit of hindsight the allied victory in WWII seems almost inevitable in the wake of the success of the D-Day landings in the June of the previous year. But early on in the war the outcome was far from certain. Battle after battle was lost by British forces. A turning point was the victory of the Eighth Army over Rommel's Battalions at the Battle of El Alamein. Churchill reflected, "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat." At the same time the war leader knew that there was still a long way to go before victory was finally secured. He cautioned, "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." And so it was.

Similarly, we don't regard being judged 'Good' at long last as the end of the journey. It merely marks, we trust, the end of a new beginning for the school. We aim to be 'Outstanding', not mainly for the kudos of receiving the ultimate Ofsted accolade, but for the sake of our students. We want them to enjoy an outstanding education that will give them the values, skills and qualifications they need to make it in the big wide world. Can we rest content with anything less for the young people of the Westbury area?