Get-tough policy for Bradford schools with poor governors

A YORKSHIRE council is cracking down on schools with “poor or divided” governing bodies as part of a drive to raise standards.

Bradford Council’s schools chief, Coun Ralph Berry, said it was adopting a tougher new approach to intervene in cases where it has concerns.

Two sets of governing bodies at primary schools in the city have been sacked and replaced with interim executive boards (IEB) this month following critical Ofsted reports.

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Each IEB has to be approved by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Coun Berry, the council’s executive member for children’s services, said the authority wanted to move quickly to ensure it replaced governing bodies where it decided this was necessary.

“We want to move quickly because when we don’t it is time lost for children at these schools.”

IEBs have been appointed at both Bradford Moor and Miriam Lord primaries this month.

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The decision to remove the governing body at Bradford Moor follows a critical Ofsted report which placed the school in special measures and warned that teachers’ marking gave parents a misleading picture about their children’s progress.

The report criticised governors for failing to check the work of the school or hold its leadership to account. It also warned that teachers’ assessment of what pupils can achieve was too generous, leading to parents and children having a misleading picture of the standards being achieved.

The new IEB at Bradford Moor will be chaired by Ros Garside, who has worked in education in Bradford for ten years. Other members include Jo Williams, who chairs the Dixons Group of Academies in the city and Mike Latham, a former head teacher of Newby Primary – an outstanding school in Bradford.

A new IEB at Miriam Lord Primary has also been approved by the Government.

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Ofsted’s latest inspection of this school found that it required improvements. Inspectors said an external review of its governance should be carried out and also noted that the council was planning to remove the governing body because of its concerns.

Coun Berry said: “Where there are instances of poor governance or conflict within a governing body we are acting quickly to address this.”

The new IEB at Miriam Lord has three members: Jackie Walters, an experienced chair of governors, Abderrazzak Ahdida, an ethnic minority achievement consultant at Bradford Council and Ruby Bhatti, a solicitor, said to have a good knowledge of the local community, and who is also on Bradford Moor’s IEB.

Miriam Lord head teacher Bryan Harrison said: “I welcome the decision to approve an IEB for Miriam Lord and look forward to working with them to bring about further improvements at the school.

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“We are working hard on the areas for improvement outlined in the recent Ofsted report and the IEB will be central to ensuring the school is on track.”

Coun Berry added: “I welcome the decision to approve an IEB at Miriam Lord Primary. The school has made a number of changes to bring about further improvements and the new IEB has a vital role in shaping the future of the school.”