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Reigate school headteacher: Don't judge schools if their Ofsted rating changes

By Surrey Mirror  |  Posted: October 31, 2012

  • Royal Alexandra and Albert

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THE head teacher of Royal Alexandra and Albert School is happy with the new Ofsted system, despite his school dropping from an "outstanding" rating to "good".

Last week, the Mirror reported how some head teachers in the area are concerned the school watchdog has an "incentive" to fail schools to push the Government's desire to create academies.

But Paul Spencer Ellis, head of the Gatton Bottom school in Reigate, believes the new system is fine, although he urged people not to judge schools if their grade changes, because the new framework is so different.

"You can't compare this framework with the last framework," he told the Mirror.

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"It is fine as long as everyone understands this is the case. It has been made significantly more difficult for schools to get the top grades.

"We are a better school now than we were [at the last inspection] in 2008, but I don't for a minute think we are perfect."

Inspectors lavished praise on aspects of the school, with behaviour and safety of pupils ranked "outstanding".

It was also noted how pupils felt a "family atmosphere" at the school, which provides both boarding and day tuition for 962 pupils aged 7 to 18.

Attainment, management and the range of subjects were also praised, as was the sixth form, which opened two years ago and which inspectors said "offers a broad choice of courses, encourages aspiration and fosters independent learning and personal responsibility".

As schools receive only a day's notice of inspection, Mr Spencer Ellis was happy with the outcome.

"My calculation was the inspectors wouldn't come, and they did," he said.

"They saw the school as it is and I'm pleased with that."

But the school is not sitting on its laurels. With the Key Stage 3 curriculum and use of students' results to track their progress cited as areas for attention, Mr Spencer Ellis is already planning a curriculum review and the installation of a new programme which will track pupils' results through the school.

And though he believes Ofsted's new framework will help schools with lower grades, Mr Spencer Ellis's focus is very clear – take Royal Alexandra and Albert back to "outstanding".

"I think the new framework is more interested in helping schools who need advice," he said.

"The description for outstanding is pretty high, but that's what we want."

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