Ofsted is being unfair to our school

Sir – We are two year 12 students of Wood Green School and as such we were shocked to hear that our school has been demoted to ‘special measures’. We think this is undeserved and wrong.

When we dissect Ofsted’s unfair report, it is easy to see why our school has received such criticism. The most positive features of our school, the same attributes which earned us an outstanding rating in 2010, were overlooked in the most recent inspection.

Our unmatched drama and PE facilities were dismissed as trivialities, with little regard given to the benefit they provide to students not destined to pursue a career in the ‘hard subjects’.

Furthermore, Ofsted sprang its inspection less than a term into the school’s headmaster’s first academic year, long before any of his planned reforms could have been set in motion.

Their odd choice of timing has led many people across Witney to believe that this is all a ploy to force Wood Green, kicking and screaming, into becoming an academy (unsurprising, as we are the last comprehensive school in West Oxfordshire) on top of the Department for Education’s leaked plans to bully schools such as ours into becoming an academy.

Despite our indignation, we understand that Ofsted’s review is not entirely without merit. Exam results for both English and maths have fallen significantly at Wood Green, as they have across all of England, since the appointment of Michael Gove as Education Secretary.

We do agree with certain points that Ofsted raised. As two of the higher grade students, we have felt that we have occasionally been neglected throughout the years. It is true that the school does tend to focus on the C to D-grade candidates and can fail to push the top students. However, one must consider that this problem is reflected on a national level and it is not just our school which is suffering.

Unfortunately, Ofsted completely overlooked the positives of Wood Green School, for example the work that Space to Learn does with children who are not suited to being in mainstream classes, on top of the work we do with Springfield School, such as dance projects and cooking lessons. These experiences are key to those students’ lives and simply ignoring them is unjust.

As students who have been at Wood Green for a good number of years, and chose to stay on at Sixth Form, we have always felt the sense of community at Wood Green. Every year the school unites in Charities Week, and raises as much money as it can for charities selected by the school council. However, this wasn’t recognised by Ofsted.

We have always had a great working relationship with our tutors and have profited from the positive working environment which is consistently upheld by both the student and teacher bodies. The standard of teaching and level of support is exceptional and for this to be dismissed is shameful.

To conclude, Ofsted’s surreal impression of our progressive and wholesome school is nothing more than a bad joke. Our school is not a special measures school and, regardless of Ofsted’s opinion, Wood Green is still outstanding to us.

Jennifer Pagliuca and Zachary Peake, Woodlands Road, Witney

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