Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 30 October 2014

Head brands schools' inspection process 'immoral'

Edenbrooke Primary School in the Shankill
Edenbrooke Primary School in the Shankill

The schools' inspection process is "immoral" and destroying schools, a principal has told the Department of Education watchdog.

Jonathan Manning, principal of Edenbrooke PS in west Belfast's Shankill area, said his staff were devastated and confused after a critical inspection report in March. The school – currently in an improvement programme known as formal intervention – was graded as "inadequate".

While inspectors found the bulk of the school's teaching provision to be "good or better", with good programmes in place to boost numeracy and literacy under the "tireless" work of its principal, they cited pupils' performance in English and maths as "well below the Northern Ireland average... in three of the past four years".

The inspectorate's focus on pupils' performance in state Key Stage assessments is flawed and fuelling "a palpable sense of injustice and immorality" in schools where high levels of deprivation are not taken into account, Mr Manning told the committee. Around 80% of pupils at Edenbrooke receive free school meals.

"I believe the current system is immoral and unjust," he said. "The inspection process used to work alongside schools, but now I believe they are destroying schools."

In a statement, the Education and Training Inspectorate said: "During the last four years over 80% of schools that had a follow-up inspection had improved. This illustrates how schools, working in partnership with the ETI, are delivering real improvements."

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