Schools

Bollin School is “broken” and “in turmoil”, says damning Ofsted report

By David Prior at

Bollin Primary School in Bowdon is “in tatters” and “broken”, a damning Ofsted inspection has reported.

The education watchdog conducted an emergency inspection on March 9th and 10th, just days after the school had been temporarily closed by Trafford Council after months of growing antagonism between parents and the school’s head teacher, Michelle Brindle.

The Bollin, judged as outstanding when last fully inspected in 2007, should now be placed in special measures, Ofsted said.

Parents protesting at the school in February

The extraordinary report was scathing in it summary of the school, with analysis including:

  • “This once thriving school is in tatters. Recent events, fuelled by disagreements among staff and parents, have sullied the previously glowing reputation of Bollin in the community.”
  • “This is a school in turmoil. It is broken. The current atmosphere of discord and mistrust among staff and parents is doing little to build bridges and re-establish Bollin at the heart of the community.”
  • “Recent events go a long way to explaining the lack of confidence and trust most parents and teachers have in the school’s leaders. However, these are not the only reason that Bollin requires special measures. Over time, leaders at all levels, including governors, have failed to halt the decline in teaching and pupils’ achievement. Consequently, all aspects of school life have deteriorated since the school was judged outstanding in 2007.”
  • “New leaders identified the need for change at the start of the school year. Nonetheless, leaders’ actions have failed to bear fruit. There is no indication that the school is turning a corner. In fact, the opposite is true; the notable strengths identified at the previous inspection continue to diminish in the current climate.”
  • “Leaders at all levels have made too little difference to the quality of teaching. Middle leaders, across different subjects, are unaware of what is being taught in different year groups or of how well pupils are moving forward from their starting points. New ideas or ways of working are not followed through, or checked with sufficient rigour, to ensure that they are embedded in each year group.”

The report disagreed with the theory put forward by many parents and staff that “everything would be resolved” if the school was able to return to the situation prior to September 2016, when Mrs Brindle took over.

It added: “There are too may systematic failings and endemic weaknesses for such an easy solution to mend the considerable shortcomings in this school.”

Interim headteacher Kylie Spark

It did though praise the interim head teacher, Kylie Spark, for “winning over staff, parents and pupils through her calm and warm manner”, but added: “She has a clear understanding of the necessary steps required to improve the school, but has neither the time nor the support to implement change.”

Improvements must be made to “tackle endemic weaknesses in leadership” as “a matter of urgency,” the report said.