Stevenage headteacher critical of inspection as Ofsted confirms report review

JHN headteacher Clive Mathew with students and Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, who has issued a sup

JHN headteacher Clive Mathew with students and Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, who has issued a supporting statement. - Credit: Archant

The headteacher of a Stevenage school has said that an Ofsted report which has seen its rating downgraded ‘doesn’t add up’.

The education watchdog published its findings on Monday after inspecting the John Henry Newman School last month, with the school given a ‘good’ rating.

Before the system was overhauled in September 2012, the school in Hitchin Road had been given ‘outstanding’ status – the highest rating available.

The report cited a number of reasons for the school not being ‘outstanding’, including “not narrowing the gaps between the progress and attainment of disadvantaged students” and noting students make errors “because feedback on their work is not sufficiently regular or clear”.

Head Clive Mathew has questioned Ofsted’s inspection, which was carried out shortly before the school received a letter from schools minister David Laws praising staff and students for their GCSE results, which were in the top 90 of non-selective state funded schools in England.

“We had the letter praising the work we’re doing and then about the same time there was the inspection, so the rating doesn’t add up to us,” said Mr Mathew, who met with parents on Tuesday to discuss the report.

“Looking at the report, we can’t recognise our school. The results that we have had put us in the same bracket as selective and private schools, and we’re a non-selective school.

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“I think we do a very good job. I’m not saying we’re perfect, as we’re always working to be better in everything we do, but then in my eyes there is no such thing as a perfect school.”

Mr Mathew has received supporting statements from a number of educational figures, including David Kilgallon, who takes the lead for secondary schools at Herts for Learning, and Dr David Frost from the University of Cambridge.

Both men praised JHN, highlighting its leadership work at Nicholas Breakspear School in St Albans after it went into special measures.

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland has also lent his support to the Stevenage school.

He said: “The school is a remarkable establishment which is playing a significant role in making an outstanding contribution to the people of Stevenage.

“I have visited the school and I have also had a great deal of correspondence from parents.

“It’s clear the school is highly valued and appreciated by them.”

An Ofsted spokesman said: “We can confirm that we are reviewing the complaint received. However, it would be inappropriate to comment further while a review is ongoing.”