Newport headteacher quits after damning Ofsted report

THE headteacher of Newport Free Grammar School is to quit his post following a damning Ofsted report published today (Thursday).

Se�n O’Hagan, who joined the school in September 2006, informed chair of governors, Paul Gray, of his intention to step down at the end of August after receiving criticism from inspectors.

In the report, Ofsted describes the leadership as “not sufficiently incisive or well communicated” and branded the school’s self-evaluation as “overgenerous”.

It adds that “not all members of the school community fully support its leadership because of limitations in communication at all levels”.

Inspectors, who visited over two days in May, graded the school as ‘satisfactory’ for the second time in three years and said the capacity for it to improve beyond its current performance was no better than satisfactory.

In the wake of Mr O’Hagan’s impending departure, deputy headteacher Matthew Gibson has been appointed acting head from September.

One parent, who did not wish to be named, said the poor Ofsted performance highlighted the desperate need for a shake up.

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“It’s a very disappointing Ofsted report and clearly his position as headteacher was untenable,” the parent told the Reporter. “The school has been coasting for far too long and it is about time it got its act together.

“What is important now is that parents and pupils give full support to the acting headteacher so that the necessary improvements are made.”

Mr Gray said he wanted to pay tribute to the work Mr O’Hagan had done, and praised the “dignified and selfless way” he reached his decision.

“Once Se�n had seen the report and the explicit reference to the headteacher he was extremely anxious and incredibly noble in wanting to put the school’s interests first,” Mr Gray said.

“He feels, and I support him on it, that the observation is harsh but I think he has made a credible and selfless decision that paints him in a very good light.”

Despite the overall grade, Mr Gray remained upbeat about some of the report’s findings saying it was pleasing inspectors recognised the school had a “good curriculum... appropriate to students’ abilities and aspirations” and that “significant improvements had been made in a number of areas” since their last visit.

“We’re disappointed with Ofsted’s overall ‘satisfactory’ assessment ... but we must accept the inspectors’ judgement. We are not remotely complacent and will embrace their comments to increase our efforts to improve the work of the school,” he said.

Mr O’Hagan disputed how justified the criticism of his role as headteacher was, but acknowledged it was a “very public statement”.

“It is not my wish that a focus on me personally should become a difficulty or a distraction from the important and essential task of further improving Newport Free Grammar School,” he said.