Councillor's concerns over Ofsted findings at Russell Hall Primary School

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor Michael Walls Councillor Michael Walls

A Bradford councillor has voiced “great concern” about a primary school which has been told by education watchdog Ofsted that it must improve.

Councillor Michael Walls has spoken out after an inspection by the education watchdog flagged up failings in teaching at Russell Hall Primary, Queensbury.

Areas highlighted included pupils’ achievement; teaching quality and leadership and management.

The inspectors state the school is not good because progress was not fast enough in some years; pupils do not get the same deal in all classes and the school is not accurate in evaluating strengths and weaknesses.

The report did, though, say pupils’ behaviour and safety was good.

And its strengths include examples of outstanding teaching; safe, secure and caring environment and a creative curriculum. Russell Hall was also said to be highly valued by the community.

Coun Walls (Con, Queensbury) urged Bradford’s education chiefs to do all they can to help Russell Hall solve its problems.

“I am really concerned for children at the school and I know many parents share my concern,” he said.

But while backing Coun Walls’s comments, Councillor Paul Cromie (Ind, Queensbury) described problems at the school as “just a blip”.

“I am sure the situation will right itself,” he said.

Coun Cromie, whose wife Lynda is also an Independent councillor for the ward, added: “If there are problems then they need sorting out as quickly as possible. But this will right itself, I am sure of that. I think it is a temporary blip. The school is devoted to its pupils.”

Councillor Ralph Berry, the Council’s executive member for children’s services, said education chiefs were aware of the situation and was supporting the school.

Councillor Roger L’Amie, the Conservative shadow member for education, said: “The importance of a sound start to a child’s education cannot be overstated. It is crucial that all our schools deliver a first-rate education. All parents have a right to expect this.”

Russell Hall headteacher Christine Nuttall did not want to comment.

Comments (14)

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8:46am Mon 16 Dec 13

Apollo says...

I would not believe anything coming from an OFSTED inspection.

Is is quite clear that they are going into Bradford schools with an agenda which is to downgrade as many schools as possible with a view to drive forward the Government's preference for academies.

If Russell Hall can be given 'needs improvement' then there is little hope of an honest inspection for any school in Bradford.

OFTSED are not to be trusted. They are a Government agency and not independent like the old HMI were. They are therefore subject to pressure to conform and confirm findings which support an academy only agenda.
I would not believe anything coming from an OFSTED inspection. Is is quite clear that they are going into Bradford schools with an agenda which is to downgrade as many schools as possible with a view to drive forward the Government's preference for academies. If Russell Hall can be given 'needs improvement' then there is little hope of an honest inspection for any school in Bradford. OFTSED are not to be trusted. They are a Government agency and not independent like the old HMI were. They are therefore subject to pressure to conform and confirm findings which support an academy only agenda. Apollo

10:07am Mon 16 Dec 13

Michael Manus says...

It's OK Councillors commenting on here, how come none of the 3 are members of the Governing body for this school?

I have to agree with Apollo OFSTED can not be trusted.
It's OK Councillors commenting on here, how come none of the 3 are members of the Governing body for this school? I have to agree with Apollo OFSTED can not be trusted. Michael Manus

2:30pm Mon 16 Dec 13

dontbedaft says...

Ok Cllr Walls, so are you going to approach the school to offer your help? or,, just a minute,,,,, was,nt you a governor at Queensbury upper school and you resigned just before they went into special measures,,,,,,,me thinks, Russell Hall might be able to cope without your help eh?
Ok Cllr Walls, so are you going to approach the school to offer your help? or,, just a minute,,,,, was,nt you a governor at Queensbury upper school and you resigned just before they went into special measures,,,,,,,me thinks, Russell Hall might be able to cope without your help eh? dontbedaft

3:37pm Mon 16 Dec 13

Albion. says...

dontbedaft wrote:
Ok Cllr Walls, so are you going to approach the school to offer your help? or,, just a minute,,,,, was,nt you a governor at Queensbury upper school and you resigned just before they went into special measures,,,,,,,me thinks, Russell Hall might be able to cope without your help eh?
Are you a former pupil?
[quote][p][bold]dontbedaft[/bold] wrote: Ok Cllr Walls, so are you going to approach the school to offer your help? or,, just a minute,,,,, was,nt you a governor at Queensbury upper school and you resigned just before they went into special measures,,,,,,,me thinks, Russell Hall might be able to cope without your help eh?[/p][/quote]Are you a former pupil? Albion.

3:39pm Mon 16 Dec 13

Bone_idle18 says...

the reason more schools are being downgraded is because Ofsted, rightly, have placed more emphasis on teaching standards.

I don't have a problem at all with them.

I would trust Ofsted more than the council.
the reason more schools are being downgraded is because Ofsted, rightly, have placed more emphasis on teaching standards. I don't have a problem at all with them. I would trust Ofsted more than the council. Bone_idle18

4:23pm Mon 16 Dec 13

Apollo says...

Bone_idle18 wrote:
the reason more schools are being downgraded is because Ofsted, rightly, have placed more emphasis on teaching standards. I don't have a problem at all with them. I would trust Ofsted more than the council.
In a school where attendance is good, children feel safe, children are not bullied etc. and yet it can still be marked down I have a problem with OFSTED regardless of the fact that the Council are useless.

It is not a question of who to trust more than any other group. It is about OFSTED having a barely hidden agenda driven by central Government wishing to promote academies for political purposes.
[quote][p][bold]Bone_idle18[/bold] wrote: the reason more schools are being downgraded is because Ofsted, rightly, have placed more emphasis on teaching standards. I don't have a problem at all with them. I would trust Ofsted more than the council.[/p][/quote]In a school where attendance is good, children feel safe, children are not bullied etc. and yet it can still be marked down I have a problem with OFSTED regardless of the fact that the Council are useless. It is not a question of who to trust more than any other group. It is about OFSTED having a barely hidden agenda driven by central Government wishing to promote academies for political purposes. Apollo

4:44pm Mon 16 Dec 13

Bone_idle18 says...

Apollo wrote:
Bone_idle18 wrote:
the reason more schools are being downgraded is because Ofsted, rightly, have placed more emphasis on teaching standards. I don't have a problem at all with them. I would trust Ofsted more than the council.
In a school where attendance is good, children feel safe, children are not bullied etc. and yet it can still be marked down I have a problem with OFSTED regardless of the fact that the Council are useless.

It is not a question of who to trust more than any other group. It is about OFSTED having a barely hidden agenda driven by central Government wishing to promote academies for political purposes.
Ofsted had a major change in how the **** though, placing far more emphasis on the quality of teaching.

I can see why they would do that, no point being great in everything except the quality of teaching, as that's really a fundamental part of education.

However, looking at the result for this school (on the Department of Education web site), they seem to have improved quite a bit since the previous year. I'd say it's not even in the bottom 50% of Bradford Primary schools.

When was it assessed?
[quote][p][bold]Apollo[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Bone_idle18[/bold] wrote: the reason more schools are being downgraded is because Ofsted, rightly, have placed more emphasis on teaching standards. I don't have a problem at all with them. I would trust Ofsted more than the council.[/p][/quote]In a school where attendance is good, children feel safe, children are not bullied etc. and yet it can still be marked down I have a problem with OFSTED regardless of the fact that the Council are useless. It is not a question of who to trust more than any other group. It is about OFSTED having a barely hidden agenda driven by central Government wishing to promote academies for political purposes.[/p][/quote]Ofsted had a major change in how the **** though, placing far more emphasis on the quality of teaching. I can see why they would do that, no point being great in everything except the quality of teaching, as that's really a fundamental part of education. However, looking at the result for this school (on the Department of Education web site), they seem to have improved quite a bit since the previous year. I'd say it's not even in the bottom 50% of Bradford Primary schools. When was it assessed? Bone_idle18

7:35pm Mon 16 Dec 13

willybob2 says...

Didn't need OFSTED to state the obvious. Only one current Year 6 pupil passed the 11+ and even then didn't make it into the top 100. They waste far too much time on "soft" topics such as Golden Time (basically waste an entire Friday afternoon), bikeability in year 5 when most kids can safely ride a bike anyway. Same goes for swimming. Just a shame they can't add up and spell properly!
Didn't need OFSTED to state the obvious. Only one current Year 6 pupil passed the 11+ and even then didn't make it into the top 100. They waste far too much time on "soft" topics such as Golden Time (basically waste an entire Friday afternoon), bikeability in year 5 when most kids can safely ride a bike anyway. Same goes for swimming. Just a shame they can't add up and spell properly! willybob2

8:17pm Mon 16 Dec 13

Michael Manus says...

willybob2 wrote:
Didn't need OFSTED to state the obvious. Only one current Year 6 pupil passed the 11+ and even then didn't make it into the top 100. They waste far too much time on "soft" topics such as Golden Time (basically waste an entire Friday afternoon), bikeability in year 5 when most kids can safely ride a bike anyway. Same goes for swimming. Just a shame they can't add up and spell properly!
Not forgetting that each class has increased dramatically in size due to being over subscribed with additional pupils from the new housing developments. The schools are forced by the council to take these extra pupils and now some classes have 3-4 teachers all trying to teach in the same classroom. Perhaps the councillors could concentrate on stopping the next proposed housing development for Queensbury. If not it won't be long before the other 2 primary schools have the same OFSTED result.
[quote][p][bold]willybob2[/bold] wrote: Didn't need OFSTED to state the obvious. Only one current Year 6 pupil passed the 11+ and even then didn't make it into the top 100. They waste far too much time on "soft" topics such as Golden Time (basically waste an entire Friday afternoon), bikeability in year 5 when most kids can safely ride a bike anyway. Same goes for swimming. Just a shame they can't add up and spell properly![/p][/quote]Not forgetting that each class has increased dramatically in size due to being over subscribed with additional pupils from the new housing developments. The schools are forced by the council to take these extra pupils and now some classes have 3-4 teachers all trying to teach in the same classroom. Perhaps the councillors could concentrate on stopping the next proposed housing development for Queensbury. If not it won't be long before the other 2 primary schools have the same OFSTED result. Michael Manus

8:19pm Mon 16 Dec 13

Michael Manus says...

willybob2 wrote:
Didn't need OFSTED to state the obvious. Only one current Year 6 pupil passed the 11+ and even then didn't make it into the top 100. They waste far too much time on "soft" topics such as Golden Time (basically waste an entire Friday afternoon), bikeability in year 5 when most kids can safely ride a bike anyway. Same goes for swimming. Just a shame they can't add up and spell properly!
Not forgetting that each class has increased dramatically in size due to being over subscribed with additional pupils from the new housing developments. The schools are forced by the council to take these extra pupils and now some classes have 3-4 teachers all trying to teach in the same classroom. Perhaps the councillors could concentrate on stopping the next proposed housing development for Queensbury. If not it won't be long before the other 2 primary schools have the same OFSTED result.
[quote][p][bold]willybob2[/bold] wrote: Didn't need OFSTED to state the obvious. Only one current Year 6 pupil passed the 11+ and even then didn't make it into the top 100. They waste far too much time on "soft" topics such as Golden Time (basically waste an entire Friday afternoon), bikeability in year 5 when most kids can safely ride a bike anyway. Same goes for swimming. Just a shame they can't add up and spell properly![/p][/quote]Not forgetting that each class has increased dramatically in size due to being over subscribed with additional pupils from the new housing developments. The schools are forced by the council to take these extra pupils and now some classes have 3-4 teachers all trying to teach in the same classroom. Perhaps the councillors could concentrate on stopping the next proposed housing development for Queensbury. If not it won't be long before the other 2 primary schools have the same OFSTED result. Michael Manus

7:50pm Tue 17 Dec 13

Youla1 says...

The report also states:
The senior leaders and governors have moved the school forward since the previous inspection. Very beneficial partnerships with other schools and educational consultants are raising standards in mathematics and aspects of English
Progress occurs at a steady rate between Years 1 and 4 but could
be much better; in Years 5 and 6 it accelerates so that it is good and, at times, outstanding.
Excellent teaching at upper Key Stage 2 accelerates progress rapidly. Exceptionally imaginative techniques enable pupils to take responsibility for their writing. Excellent use of subjects such as history and science give pupils a reason to read and write.Standards in mathematics are now increasing. In 2013, three pupils successfully attained the highest Level 6 in mathematics; this is an indication that the most-able pupils are starting to achieve better. In the best lessons, pupils are inspired, they are stretched beyond existing knowledge and skills and they develop a deep understanding of their own standards and how to improve their achievement. Across the school, new teaching initiatives, aimed at giving pupils a secure understanding of the basic skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, are improving learning in mathematics....

So, in a nut-shell...the school has improved from the last inspection (when Cllr Michael Walls wasn't worried) and teaching has improved so much that children are receiving the highest levels of achievement in maths. Maybe he should visit the school. Had he taken time to visit today he would have heard a choir singing in beautiful harmonies and children singing 'silent night'....IN GERMAN!!!
The report also states: The senior leaders and governors have moved the school forward since the previous inspection. Very beneficial partnerships with other schools and educational consultants are raising standards in mathematics and aspects of English Progress occurs at a steady rate between Years 1 and 4 but could be much better; in Years 5 and 6 it accelerates so that it is good and, at times, outstanding. Excellent teaching at upper Key Stage 2 accelerates progress rapidly. Exceptionally imaginative techniques enable pupils to take responsibility for their writing. Excellent use of subjects such as history and science give pupils a reason to read and write.Standards in mathematics are now increasing. In 2013, three pupils successfully attained the highest Level 6 in mathematics; this is an indication that the most-able pupils are starting to achieve better. In the best lessons, pupils are inspired, they are stretched beyond existing knowledge and skills and they develop a deep understanding of their own standards and how to improve their achievement. Across the school, new teaching initiatives, aimed at giving pupils a secure understanding of the basic skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, are improving learning in mathematics.... So, in a nut-shell...the school has improved from the last inspection (when Cllr Michael Walls wasn't worried) and teaching has improved so much that children are receiving the highest levels of achievement in maths. Maybe he should visit the school. Had he taken time to visit today he would have heard a choir singing in beautiful harmonies and children singing 'silent night'....IN GERMAN!!! Youla1

4:05pm Wed 18 Dec 13

Libris8 says...

willybob2 wrote:
Didn't need OFSTED to state the obvious. Only one current Year 6 pupil passed the 11+ and even then didn't make it into the top 100. They waste far too much time on "soft" topics such as Golden Time (basically waste an entire Friday afternoon), bikeability in year 5 when most kids can safely ride a bike anyway. Same goes for swimming. Just a shame they can't add up and spell properly!
Your comment suggests that you have not actually read the report. What exactly is the relevance of the 11+ exam? Primary schools are not responsible for getting pupils into grammar schools; that is the choice and responsibility of parents alone. Not relevant to this discussion!
I assume that you know that swimming is part of the National Curriculum, and is therefore statutory? The safety of children is, rightly, high on every school's agenda, which is why many schools do schemes like Bikeability (as well as road safety being part of the PSHCE curriculum).
In all, this sounds like very personal gripe (maybe your child didn't pass the 11+??) and this is a rather cowardly way to air it. You really do need to verify your 'facts', since I know from a trusted source that 'Golden Time' lasts 20-30 minutes, and is an integral and effective part of the school's behaviour policy. And where is the evidence that the pupils 'can't spell or add up right'? Certainly not in the OfStEd report (see Youla1's comment above).
There is obviously work still to be done at this school, but it is improving. Schools like this need the support of the community, instead of the sensationalist scaremongering promoted by this councillor.
Indeed, shame on Councillor Walls for making such a public attack on an improving school without providing any context. He has not spoken to anyone at the school, but just launched into his attack. Well done to everyone who has actually read this report and looked at the school's data in order to come to an 'informed' conclusion. I wish this school every success and feel that it has been unfairly singled out.
[quote][p][bold]willybob2[/bold] wrote: Didn't need OFSTED to state the obvious. Only one current Year 6 pupil passed the 11+ and even then didn't make it into the top 100. They waste far too much time on "soft" topics such as Golden Time (basically waste an entire Friday afternoon), bikeability in year 5 when most kids can safely ride a bike anyway. Same goes for swimming. Just a shame they can't add up and spell properly![/p][/quote]Your comment suggests that you have not actually read the report. What exactly is the relevance of the 11+ exam? Primary schools are not responsible for getting pupils into grammar schools; that is the choice and responsibility of parents alone. Not relevant to this discussion! I assume that you know that swimming is part of the National Curriculum, and is therefore statutory? The safety of children is, rightly, high on every school's agenda, which is why many schools do schemes like Bikeability (as well as road safety being part of the PSHCE curriculum). In all, this sounds like very personal gripe (maybe your child didn't pass the 11+??) and this is a rather cowardly way to air it. You really do need to verify your 'facts', since I know from a trusted source that 'Golden Time' lasts 20-30 minutes, and is an integral and effective part of the school's behaviour policy. And where is the evidence that the pupils 'can't spell or add up right'? Certainly not in the OfStEd report (see Youla1's comment above). There is obviously work still to be done at this school, but it is improving. Schools like this need the support of the community, instead of the sensationalist scaremongering promoted by this councillor. Indeed, shame on Councillor Walls for making such a public attack on an improving school without providing any context. He has not spoken to anyone at the school, but just launched into his attack. Well done to everyone who has actually read this report and looked at the school's data in order to come to an 'informed' conclusion. I wish this school every success and feel that it has been unfairly singled out. Libris8

8:24pm Wed 18 Dec 13

Lakey1 says...

I have to agree with Libris8. The issue here is the unfair comments made by Councillor Ward. It is unfair to make judgements about a school without even setting a foot in the door! The school is inviting and friendly and the report highlights that;
‘The school provides pupils with a safe, secure and caring environment. Much help is given to pupils and families who are vulnerable due to their circumstances. The school is a highly valued part of the local community. The large majority of parents value its contribution to their children’s education. The curriculum is creatively planned. There are examples of excellent strategies to inspire pupils to learn and ENJOY school.’
I know that there are many parents who believe that children should have a rounded curriculum, which includes aspects of safety education and health education. (Swimming / riding bikes safely on the roads/ following rules as we do in society; golden time)
Youla1 highlighted aspects of the report which said that progress is steady – not stagnant – in years 1-4, and then it accelerates in years 5-6. This indicates that the children have had a good grounding, learning laterally rather than having a rigid, literal (boring) curriculum. These methods of teaching ensure that the children consolidate many skills in years 1-4, which enables them to excel in upper key stage 2.
Ofsted regularly change their criteria when judging schools, making one wonder why they haven’t got a foolproof system after 10 years?
I have to agree with Libris8. The issue here is the unfair comments made by Councillor Ward. It is unfair to make judgements about a school without even setting a foot in the door! The school is inviting and friendly and the report highlights that; ‘The school provides pupils with a safe, secure and caring environment. Much help is given to pupils and families who are vulnerable due to their circumstances. The school is a highly valued part of the local community. The large majority of parents value its contribution to their children’s education. The curriculum is creatively planned. There are examples of excellent strategies to inspire pupils to learn and ENJOY school.’ I know that there are many parents who believe that children should have a rounded curriculum, which includes aspects of safety education and health education. (Swimming / riding bikes safely on the roads/ following rules as we do in society; golden time) Youla1 highlighted aspects of the report which said that progress is steady – not stagnant – in years 1-4, and then it accelerates in years 5-6. This indicates that the children have had a good grounding, learning laterally rather than having a rigid, literal (boring) curriculum. These methods of teaching ensure that the children consolidate many skills in years 1-4, which enables them to excel in upper key stage 2. Ofsted regularly change their criteria when judging schools, making one wonder why they haven’t got a foolproof system after 10 years? Lakey1

9:03pm Wed 18 Dec 13

brandy12 says...

Just wondering if willybob2's child attends the school and failed 11+?
Just wondering if willybob2's child attends the school and failed 11+? brandy12

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