A PURLEY primary school has been put into special measures this week – despite inspectors praising its new head teacher for making vast improvements since January.
Wattenden Primary School in Old Lodge Lane was rated as inadequate by Ofsted for its pupil achievement, teaching and management. The behaviour and safety of the children also required improvement.
The report stated less able and disabled children were being left behind, classes were disrupted by staff changes, the governing body had not secured improvements and school leaders had not made sure pupil premiums were used wisely.
However, it praised the new head teacher Pete Steward, for improving the checking of pupil progress. His appointment marked the end of a long two years without a permanent head teacher.
Mr Steward said: "Wattenden has been through some difficult times in recent years, and we fully accept the need to make rapid improvements to give our fantastic children the quality of education they deserve.
"Wattenden is a school with enormous potential. The report correctly highlights the fact that 'pupils from a wide range of backgrounds get on well, and feel safe and happy'."
Parents were split between agreeing the school needed improvement and defending the quality of teaching.
Lisa Faltag said her daughter in Year 1 was "making huge improvements with her teacher".
"I can't fault it and don't have a bad word about the school," she said.
However, Dr Heidi James-Dunbar, who has a son in his final year, said the report may be the best thing to happen to the school.
"Huge improvements are needed. My son has had a change of staff every single year. The discipline used to be appalling too but has improved.
"I very much hope the head can now make the necessary changes."
Susan Assab, who has only been taking her children this term, said she thought the teachers were lovely but that Ofsted often gave poor results for bad leadership.
Another mother said she was "gutted" but was convinced improvements would be made.
Tim Pollard, Croydon cabinet member for children, young people and learners, said it was "unfortunate" the school had been inspected only six months after Mr Steward's arrival.
He said: "I know the school has made an awful lot of progress since the new head arrived in January.
"Had it been in a different cycle [of inspections], then there may have been a different outcome."
He added that the Department for Education would now have to decide whether the school will become an academy.
One third of schoolchildren at Wattenden qualify for pupil premiums – additional funding given to schools so that they can support their disadvantaged pupils, a higher proportion than the national average.