Partridge Green in ‘shock’ after school’s ‘inadequate’ Ofsted report

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The chair of governors of a Partridge Green school placed in special measures by Ofsted said he has been ‘heartened’ by community and staff support in recent months.

Jolesfield Church of England Primary School was ranked ‘outstanding’ by the education regulatory body in January 2010, but fell to ‘inadequate’ after an inspection in June this year.

Last night’s (Wednesday September 11) meeting of Chanctonbury County Local Committee addressed the issue.

A strong turnout of parents of children at the school heard co-headteachers Sue Uff and Christine Knight explain how they have produced a 42-page ‘action plan’ to combat the school’s weaknesses.

The headteachers are now working alongside Catherine Davies, a senior advisor in support and education service, representing West Sussex County Council.

David Green, who became a governor at the school in November of last year and chair of governors last week, admitted he has ‘been on a very steep learning curve’.

He said: “The Ofsted report did come as a huge shock to literally everybody in the village.

“I have to say I have found it very heartening the way the entire community has rallied around to make sure we are out of special measures soon.

“Sue and Christine have put in a tremendous amount of work in preparing the action plan which is going to help us get ourselves out of the mess we find ourselves in.”

Both headteachers spoke during the meeting.

Mrs Uff said: “Everybody is absolutely dedicated and driven to move the school on, and we are working very closely with the local authority to make those improvements.

“We are keeping parents as informed as possible.”

Mrs Knight added: “The action plan has financial implications as well and as a small village school, we don’t have a huge budget.

“We have the community with us, a very supportive governing body, and at the heart of everything we do is the children.”

Chairman of the committee, David Barling, the member for Bramber Castle, conveyed the optimistic mood of the school.

He said: “I am encouraged from what I have heard tonight. Well done everybody and we look forward to you coming out of special measures very soon.”

Lionel Barnard, the member for Henfield, and Pat Arculus, member for Pulborough, also offered words of encouragement and support.

Attending the meeting along with the councillors was Debbie Kennard, the deputy cabinet member for children and start of life at West Sussex County Council, who also has an experience as a governor at a school.

She said: “I know it is frightening times, but it will be good for the school. It gave tremendous support to the school I was governor at.”

Referring to Ms Davies, she added: “You have the right person with you.”

During the meeting, a parent raised the question of whether the school’s poor report - which came just three and a half years after being labelled ‘outstanding’ - could mean it becomes an academy.

Ms Davies responded by saying that ‘is the way it is going to go’, and ‘schools going towards special measures go to academies’.

The County Times initially reported on the school’s poor Ofsted showing in July.