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Headteacher of Rochford school speaks out over striking teachers
A HEADTEACHER accused of bullying by striking staff has defended his school reforms as necessary to drive up standards.
Some of Hasan) Chawdhry’s changes to Holt Farm Junior School, including more lesson observations, a reduction in the number of Year 5 teachers and increased class sizes, have proved unpopular with parents and staff.
But the head, who has 21 years teaching experience and an OBE for services to education, insists the changes are needed to let pupils and the school fulfil their potential to be outstanding.
He said: “A lot of changes have been made and a lot of accountability put in place where there was none before.
“That’s the reason I was brought in. Let us not forget that the school’s problems come from a longer period of time than recent months.”
The governing body brought Mr Chawdhry in from London as an advisor in November last year, originally three days a week for one month, as previous headteacher Steven Keley was on long-term sick leave and his deputy, Gillian Lloyd lacked leadership experience and was expected to go on maternity leave.
He was invited back after Christmas and asked to stay on until the summer after Mr Keley resigned in March. He successfully applied for the vacancy and started permanently in September.
The atmosphere soured when Mr Chawdhry fed back the results of a local education authority review of the school’s performance this March following a “satisfactory” Ofsted report in March 2011. The review praised recent improvements but criticised overall progress.
Mr Chawdhry, 50, who lives in London, said: “I said we need to improve this. It didn’t go down well when individuals recognised themselves in the report.”
His decision to reduce the number of classes from 12 to 10 to save money, which resulted in four classes growing from 25 to more than 30 pupils, angered some parents.
But Mr Chawdhry was only activating a plan agreed in summer 2011, before he joined the school and believes good teaching, not class size, determines achievement.
He said: “There was a bit of a row with parents because they couldn’t understand it. We had meetings and I explained it.
“It was a ‘satisfactory’ school for the past two Ofsted reports, when we had 25 pupils per class. If the theory was lower class sizes leads to better learning, it didn’t show it in our school.
“Better teaching is what leads to better results.”
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