Tensions between school staff and leaders highlighted in Ofsted report

Fellgate Primary School, Jarrow.
Fellgate Primary School, Jarrow.

A South Tyneside school’s leadership has been criticised by Ofsted amid accusations of instability and turbulence that have contributed to a fall in education standards.

Inspectors have marked down Fellgate Primary School, in Jarrow, from a ‘good’ to ‘requiring improvement’ rating.

They found tensions existed between leaders and staff following a reorganisation.

And the governing body, described by Ofsted as regrouping “after a spell of turbulence”, was identified as failing to hold leaders to account.

When questioned, the inspection team found governors could not identify which actions had most improved pupil outcomes.

In her report, lead Ofsted inspector Claire Brown said: “Some tensions exist in the school between staff and leaders following a period of instability in leadership and some reorganisation of staffing.

“Governors have focused on the attainment of pupils, rather than exploring the progress made by different groups of pupils.

“This has impeded the governing body’s ability to hold leaders to account for the impact of their work.”

The 183-pupil school, in Durham Drive, has been led by headteacher Carol Wilson for at least a decade.

She oversaw a rise in standards, from requiring improvement to good, at its last inspection, in March 2013.

To improve, Ofsted said there must be greater consistency of teaching, so pupils make stronger progress.

Teachers should also increase their expectations of how well pupils can and should achieve and better use assessment information to set work at the right level.

Ofsted said tensions between staff and leaders must be addressed so that the whole staff team works together.

And governors must be more robust in holding leaders, including middle, phase and subject leaders, to account.

Praising the school, Ofsted said leaders had improved the quality of teaching across Key Stage 2, with strong teaching enabling more pupils to achieve in reading, writing and mathematics.

Deputy headteacher Sean McMullen said: “We are pleased with some of the positive findings in the report, for example that the welfare and behaviour of pupils is good and that the quality of teaching at Key Stage 2 has improved since the last inspection.

“Inspectors also found that staff and leaders are passionate about improving the school and recognised the excellent relationships staff have with pupils and their families.

“However, we accept that that the report highlights areas for improvement and we have already embarked on an action plan to drive up standards.

“The whole school team, including school leaders, governors and staff are committed to working with the Local Authority and parents and pupils to ensure all our students receive the best possible education.”

Coun Alan Smith, the new Chair of Governors, said: “There is strong partnership working at Fellgate Primary School and I believe the school now has a firm foundation to work on to move the school towards a ‘Good’ outcome at the next inspection.”

Coun Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “We are working closely with Fellgate Primary School to address the issues raised by Ofsted.”