ESSEX: Stansted college appeals Ofsted report

THE Mountfitchet Mathematics and Computing College (MMCC) has launched a vigorous appeal against the Ofsted report which judged it as inadequate. The government watchdog noted that the school – on Forest Hall Road, Stansted – is failing to give its pupi

THE Mountfitchet Mathematics and Computing College (MMCC) has launched a vigorous appeal against the Ofsted report which judged it as inadequate.

The government watchdog noted that the school - on Forest Hall Road, Stansted - is "failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education" and has recommended it for special measures following an inspection in November.

But the report has been met with disbelief in the school community and shocked staff, pupils, parents and governors have sought to challenge it.

Headteacher Jo Mullis said: "The report is scandalously inaccurate and doesn't reflect our college at all. This can only do untold damage to our image in the community.

"We have challenged both the conduct and the outcome of the inspection."

Ofsted rated the school 'inadequate' in several key areas including its overall effectiveness and its capacity for improvement. In light of the critical report, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector has said that the school requires to be put under special measures - meaning that it will receive compulsory additional support until the situation improves.

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However, Miss Mullis believes the school has been penalised because of new inspection criteria introduced last year; the school takes on more pupils with learning difficulties so its attainment levels are not on a par with other schools in the area.

"We believe there was a judgement made before the inspectors even visited us," she said. "It suggests that the new framework is flawed. It is based on the narrow analysis of examination results - it is inflexible and fixated on data and we are not the only school to discover this.

"As a small school each pupil makes up for about one per cent of the figures and there can be huge fluctuations in results. Ofsted has completely failed to acknowledge this.

"It has also failed to recognise how many of our youngsters do very well. Last year we were recognised for being consistently amongst the best 10 per cent of schools in the country for the progress made by students in maths. We re also given an award for our exceptional value-added achievement."

"We know we are not top of the league tables and that is not our aim. We are a truly comprehensive school - unfortunately that doesn't translate into top exam results."

Miss Mullis - who has been headteacher for eight years but is retiring at the end of the school year due to personal reasons, a decision taken before the Ofsted inspection took place - added: "We are so much better than this. My staff were in tears when I told them and I've gone through the whole range of emotions.

"But I have been overwhelmed by the support of parents and I am confident that their views more accurately reflect the quality of teaching and learning here -at the end of the day that is what counts."

The school can expect a reply from Ofsted in early March.


* YEAR Seven pupil Jader Gneiting started at the school in September after moving with his family from America. He said: "I didn't want to live in England but I really like it. It is not as bad as I first thought and the teachers and students have helped me to settle in. The school is tonnes of fun and everybody is really friendly. There are very few classes I don't enjoy."

* DEPUTY head boy, Toby Dale-Cooke, said: "I thought the report was shocking. I didn't recognise that it was our school. I don't think it right that someone comes into the school for two days and makes a judgement like that."

* THE school's community and marketing administration assistant, Ruth Martin, said: "I think the report was totally wrong and doesn't paint the correct picture of the environment we are working in. Ofsted has really done us a dis-service. It seems the inspectors came in for two days but had already made their minds up. I think the students and the parents are happy with the school. And I believe small is better - we know the students as individuals, not just as a group."

* IN a letter of support sent to headteacher Jo Mullis, parent Jenny Freeman said: "I am sure that many parents are outraged at the injustice that this report portrays of such a wonderful school. I also feel that my intelligence has been completely insulted. As a nursery nurse with over 20 years of child care experience, I feel I may be intelligent enough to judge that my child is happy, well educated and thriving well in the school's care. I am also very offended by the letter to students [from Ofsted]. It totally undermines all the school's hard work as teachers. In no way whatsoever have any of them let down the children. No wonder so many teachers are leaving the profession."

* CHAIR of governors, Katy Griffiths, said: "As Chair of Governors and as a parent of a Year 11 student I can say that the Ofsted inspection report does not give a fair impression of MMCC. The staff work hard to ensure that every child achieves and all visitors comment on the excellent atmosphere in college and the good behaviour of the students. Students are offered the opportunity to take GCSE exams before Year 11 across a wide range of subjects and this is due to the dedication of the staff giving extra lessons. My main concern is that prospective parents will take the report at face value rather than visiting the college and seeing for themselves all the excellent achievements of the students.