Thursday, 15 December 2011

Cardinal Pole silence and questions about new head

A report into allegations that staff at Cardinal Pole school were asked to manipulate pupil assessments and to follow a 'no going backwards' policy will not be made public.

The only people who will see the report will be the chair of governors, Fr David Evans and the school's 'interim' executive headteacher Geraldine Freear who has taken over after the previous headteacher, Katherine Hartigan, resigned.

A spokesperson for the school said: "We are not releasing the report as it may prejudice the actions that the head may wish to take."

The report made three recommendations: “The first recommendation relates to personnel, the second to the school’s assessment procedures and the third to clarifying leadership roles within the school."

The school said: "Staff and students can rest assured that our new executive headteacher is very clear about the recommendations and will be acting on these as a priority. She is an extremely experienced headteacher and the governors have every confidence in her ability to lead this school towards a bright future.”

However it is believed that Freear had already been working with the school since the spring before the manipulation claims were made. Blood and Property has asked the Learning Trust what Freear's role at the school was in this period and whether she had any input on changes to how the school assessed its pupils.

Freear already runs two other schools in North West London and has an impressive track record. But teachers at Cardinal Pole are aware that an employment tribunal found the treatment of a member of staff at one of these schools as "not just inept but wholly unprofessional"  in 2007. A news report of the case described a member of staff being subjected to "months of torment" by senior staff.

Blood and Property asked whether that incident was of any concern to the Learning Trust, the school, the governors or the diocese, bearing in mind the morale of the schools teaching staff? No reply has been received.

(It is hard to tell what kind of leadership school authorities are looking for in their headteachers. Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Hackney superhead who will take over Ofsted in January told the TES: "If anyone says to you that ‘staff morale is at an all-time low’ you will know you are doing something right". Would he apply that in this case?)


7 Dec: headteacher resigns

21 Oct: Official investigation reported by Gazette

13 Sept: Cardinal Pole replies to coursework falsification claims

12 Sept: Hackney teachers urged to falsify coursework marks, claim

2 July: Vote of no confidence in Head

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Will Cardinal Pole findings be made public?

Last week the the Hackney Gazette reported that Katherine Hartigan, the head teacher at Cardinal Pole school had resigned.

This follows an investigation into allegations that the school's senior management attempted to persuade staff to manipulate student assessments prior to an Ofsted inspection. However it is unclear whether the findings of this investigation - believed to include allegations of a "no going backwards" policy for student assessment - will be made public.

The Learning Trust, which oversees the management of Hackney's schools, said that these decisions were being taken at a school level and that the report had yet to be finalised and no decision had been made about whether its findings would be made public.

However Blood and Property has been told that one reason why the findings remain under wraps may be because other senior members of staff at the school could still face disciplinary action. A governors meeting is due to take place tonight on this subject.

Concerns had already been raised about which organisations or individuals commissioned the report and which of them had authority to say whether the findings should be made public or not.

It is believed that National Union of Teachers (NUT) members had threatened to boycott the investigation after the school's head teacher allegedly claimed that the investigation was her responsibility. Those teachers who were interviewed had to be reassured that this was not the case and some believe that the findings will be made public.

More recently there has been a stormy governors' meetings about the report and when it will be available and to whom. Hopefully there will be more news on this later in the week.

All recent Cardinal Pole stories here, and a rough timeline here: