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Board steps down at Islington ‘racist bullies’ school

Cllr Convery Cllr Convery

Thursday, December 5, 2013
9:00 AM

Bid to improve ‘weak teaching and leaders’

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School Hall of Shame - Ofsted’s damming critique

n Attainment is too low and below average in key areas

n Too much weak teaching

n All pupils make inadequate progress

n Behaviour has deteriorated

n Too many incidents of bullying, including racist and homophobic incidents, without enough firm action to prevent it

n Unauthorised absence is too high and well above the national average

n The governing body has not questioned the school effectively for years and not held leaders to account for poor results

A primary school where pupils took part in racist and homophobic bullying has been placed in special measures after an Ofsted ­report so poor the governors – including the town hall’s crime chief – have stepped down.

The entire board at Copenhagen Primary School, in Treaty Street, Islington, ­including Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, have been replaced by an interim body, following the damming report, published on November 22.

Apart from the bullying, which was said not to be taken seriously, the 228-pupil school was criticised for low attainment, weak teaching, inadequate progress and high levels of unauthorised absence.

Cllr Julie Horten, Islington’s opposition Lib Dem spokesman for children, said: “This report is one of the most distressing I have ever read and the children there have clearly been let down. It is deeply worrying that the school has been rated inadequate at every level.”

Unacceptable

She added: “The fact remains though that Islington Council has allowed Copenhagen to reach this totally unacceptable situation before acting effectively.”

The document criticises the governing body, including Cllr Convery, for not challenging or questioning the school effectively for a number of years, not holding leaders to account for poor results or ensuring rapid improvement and having overseen the school’s failure.

Copenhagen was rated “good” just four years ago, but now will be subject to regular, published reports until the situation improves.

The document adds that the new headteacher has ­begun to make headway.

Cllr Paul Convery said: “The report was bad. As a parent at the school I was gobsmacked to hear about the racist and homophobic bullying – the governors weren’t told about that.

“The kids were being given too much leeway – there was a kind of atmosphere that they should be allowed to be themselves, so things weren’t strict enough and this was the result. This term we have a new head, new teachers and new leadership – it’s like a fresh school.”

Islington Council’s executive member for children and families, Cllr Joe Caluori said: “The inspection took place in September, just eight days after the new headteacher, Harsha Patel, was ­appointed. Since starting at the school, Ms Patel has taken swift action to make a number of changes that are already resulting in visible improvements.

“Ofsted noted in their ­report that pupils, staff and governors have commented positively on the start made by the new head.

“Our schools improvement team has an excellent track record and is already working closely with staff at Copenhagen to ensure that it gets back on the right track as quickly as possible. We have also appointed an interim executive board, made up of well respected, experienced educationalists including headteachers from outstanding schools to temporarily take over the role of governing Copenhagen and to give Ms Patel their advice and support at this critical time.

“Islington is ranked in the top ten local authorities in the country for the proportion of our schools judged as good or outstanding by Ofsted. We want to make sure this applies to all of our primary schools and there are long-term plans in place to ensure that the progress already made at Copenhagen continues.”

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