Council and regional consortium step in at primary school

(Title Image: Mirror)

Working with governors, Bridgend Council and the South Central regional consortium have stepped in over the last few weeks to provide a temporary leadership team at Ogmore Vale Primary School.

The headteacher of Litchard Primary, Mr J. Phillips, will act as senior advisor to the interim headteacher. The interim headteacher will  remain in post for at least two terms starting March 2019. A number of other temporary staff changes have been made.

Some of you will remember that last summer I mentioned that an English-medium primary in the valleys had been issued a final warning to make urgent improvements by the end of 2018 following a string of concerns from Estyn and teaching unions about how the school was being run.

There’s enough information in the public domain that I can probably now reveal that it was Ogmore Vale. Many of you guessed it without prompting, which suggests the problems there are much more widely known than has yet been reported.

I got some flak for not naming the school at the time and was accused by some on social media of scaremongering. My decision not to name the school was based on the fact staff had been given additional time to make improvements and I believed it would be irresponsible to name the school without giving them a chance to turn things around – plus I couldn’t independently verify all of the things I’d been told.

Clearly, those improvements haven’t been made, with Ogmore Vale Primary remaining in the “Red” category in the latest school bandings. There are serious problems at Tynyrheol Primary in Llangeinor as well. A recruitment process has started to find a new headteacher and deputy headteacher there.

The bad news for Ogmore Vale kept coming with a recent story – which made headlines around the UK – about an infant pupil who was accidentally taken back to the bus depot instead of being dropped off at the school. That would be bad on its own, but to make matters worse they also wet themselves.

It’s debatable whether that incident was “the last straw” or not, but it coincides with the current headteacher’s leave of absence – even though it’s unclear whether it was entirely the school’s fault, more a symptom of bigger problems.

While I’m sure many people will be tempted to lay into past or present staff and governors, that would be a little unfair when they have a tough enough job already. There’s no shame in trying and failing, but when it comes to education and giving kids the best start in life there’s very little room for second chances – it has to be consistently good.

It’s a sad situation all round, but hopefully the new leadership structure will steady the ship.

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