Head raises fears over Government pressure on academies

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A headteacher with 40 years experience has said political point-scoring is making it impossible for schools to achieve top marks for inspections.

Dr Andy Sheppard, of Redcastle Family Primary School in Thetford, made the remarks in light of his school being told it requires to improve following an inspection in October.

He feels inspections are geared towards favouring academies, as they are the Government’s preferred method of provision.

“I think they are making the inspections deliberately onerous so schools need to become an academy.

“We have come out as the top school in our town for the SATS and yet I don’t think we could ever get a rating of outstanding because of the way the report is done,” he said.

The requirement to improve was given despite a rating of good or outstanding being given in 11 of the 17 lessons that inspectors monitored.

And Dr Sheppard, who has taught abroad, in high schools, primary schools and in the private sector during his career, said he had enough faith in his school to stand by his methods.

But he feared younger heads may feel under pressure to make the switch to becoming an academy against their will.

“It’s geared now towards school’s becoming academies, but I think about two thirds of heads in Norfolk don’t want it,” he said.

“Maybe it lends itself more to high schools, but there is a massive difference between those and primary schools.”

The school was given an overall rating of three out of four by inspectors.

In the past, that would have been good enough for a ‘satisfactory’ rating, but recent changes in the inspection mean the rating is now ‘requires improvement’.