‘Significant concerns’ over past assessment at Hitchin primary school

Significant concerns have been found regarding historical practice at Our Lady Catholic Primary Scho

Significant concerns have been found regarding historical practice at Our Lady Catholic Primary School in Hitchin. File photo. - Credit: Archant

Significant concerns have been found during an investigation into historical practice regarding assessment and testing at a Hitchin primary school.

The Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust and governors at Our Lady Catholic Primary School are considering the full implications of the findings, which pertain to assessment, testing and reporting of pupil progress in past years.

Headteacher Ciara Nicholson has reviewed current practice and reported that the school off Old Hale Way now complies with all relevant regulations and guidance.

The investigation came about after concerns were raised by Stevenage’s John Henry Newman School, among others, questioning an apparent gulf between grades achieved by Our Lady pupils and their ability once they moved up for secondary education.

A Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust spokeswoman told the Comet today: “The investigation has now concluded and significant concerns have been identified.

“The Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust board and the governing body of the school are taking this very seriously.

“The full implications of the findings of the investigation are currently being considered. The school and the academy trust are co-operating fully with all of the relevant authorities.

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“The governing body and the headteacher have the safety, education and wellbeing of pupils at the school are as their highest priority.”

A source has told the Comet that seven teachers have been suspended – an allegation the academy trust has neither confirmed nor denied.

In a statement published in the Our Lady’s church newsletter, chair of governors Neil Adams said: “Please be assured every effort is being made to minimise disruption during this period.

“The school is fortunate to be able to rely upon additional support from other schools within the academy trust and this will continue for as long as it is deemed necessary.”

He added that the trust and governors were not in a position to relay further information to parents, but that a meeting will be arranged in due course.

Our Lady’s was last inspected by Ofsted in 2009, when it received a clean sweep of ‘outstanding’ ratings across the board. An inspector noted that “from broadly average starting points, pupils make exceptionally good progress”.

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