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Head resigns after failing school's improvement plan slammed

By Crawley News  |  Posted: October 18, 2013

By Chris Ballinger

  • STOOD DOWN: Lindsey Snowdon (seen with husband and school co-founder Andrew Snowdon) has quit as head of Discovery New School REKS20100906F

  • STOOD DOWN: Lindsey Snowdon (seen with her husband and school co-founder Andrew Snowdon) has left her role as head teacher of Discovery New School following an update Ofsted inspection

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THE head teacher of Crawley's first free school has stood down after Ofsted found plans to improve the failing school's "inadequate" system were "not fit for purpose".

Lindsey Snowdon, who co-founded Discovery New School with her husband Andrew, has left the role after an inspection which followed the school being placed in special measures.

Her resignation follows a warning from the Department for Education that the school, based at Broadfield House in Broadfield Park, could have its funding withdrawn.

An interim head teacher who specialises in turning round failing schools has been appointed.

The Montessori school was given the lowest Ofsted rating of "inadequate" during a damning inspection in May.

The school's founders strongly objected to this judgement and a monitoring visit took place in September. However, this saw no real improvement and inspector John Seal concluded that Mr and Mrs Snowdon's plan to address the issues raised was "not fit for purpose".

In the monitoring report he states: "It [the improvement plan] does not set out clearly enough the expectations for pupils' progress, the quality of teaching and how senior leaders, including the governing body, will check the school's performance."

Mr Seal also questioned Mrs Snowdon's practice of visiting all classes without then being able to present written records of observations or analysis of the quality of teaching.

He called for a "credible professional to lead the school".

The report adds: "The head teacher has agreed to stand down from her current role.

"It is essential that a credible professional is appointed to the headship without delay to provide the expert leadership necessary to remove the school from special measures."

Ofsted's Parent View, which allows parents and carers to share different opinions on their child's school, shows concerns in leadership and management are shared.

Up until September 27 there had been 81 different views given about Discovery New School. While 48 per cent of parents and carers "agree" or "strongly agree" the school is well led, 42 per cent "disagree" or "strongly disagree".

Chris Cook, chairman of governors at the school, said the temporary head teacher has experience in supporting schools in special measure.

He said: "Discovery New School has appointed a new temporary head teacher, Penny Crocker, who has spent the last few years going into schools that have been placed in special measures and helping them accelerate progress towards good and outstanding.

"This is an example of the steps that school governors are currently taking in response to Ofsted recommendations demonstrating our commitment to ensure that our children are receiving the quality of education we have set out to deliver."

Since the initial Ofsted inspection two teachers have left the school, with new staff in place. A member of the governing body has also resigned.

The updated report added the school has received training from an outside commercial company to improve the teaching of reading and writing.

The school, which opened in 2011 as one of the Government's flagship free schools, now faces close scrutiny from the Department for Education as it looks to raise its standards.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "We will not tolerate low standards and will not hesitate to take action, potentially terminating the funding agreement, if the school does not make rapid improvements."

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  • DontEmployHer  |  October 24 2013, 8:30AM

    Has anyone done back ground checks on this new head teacher as I heard that she was the main reason her previous school, St Mary's in Chiddingfold almost went into special measures due to her lack of management, long term sickness which may of been the case at the school prior to St Mary's but this information was allowed to be presented to the new school as adeal was made. It appears to be far to difficult to do sack failing teachers in the public sector and we just let them go from school to school getting pay off rather than just saying you are not up to the level we need for our children and either you resign or be sacked. Don't believe everything that is written down about this person speak to previous school teachers that she has managed and get the true picture!! I think she work 5mths out of 2-3yrs at St Mary's, we can all hide behind stress related illness which can not be proved but clearly if you can not handle the stress levels of being a head teacher at one school what makes her think she can do the same job with the same stress levels at a different school?? Sounds like she is just waiting for her gold plated pension to me!

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