A HEADTEACHER says her school’s disappointing report was partly down to the death of her mother – and claims Ofsted refused to give her a break because of it.

St Mary’s Church of England Primary School, in Boston Avenue, Southend, was told it requires improvement. Under the old grading system at Ofsted, the school would have been rated as satisfactory, the same as previous inspections.

However, because of changes at the school inspectorate, satisfactory no longer exists and was replaced with “requires improvement”.

Ofsted’s report said the school’s achievement in writing was not as good as in reading and maths. It claimed teaching was not consistently good and key stage 2 achievement was not high enough.

Headteacher Frances Neil said her mother died just before the inspectors visited.

She said: “Having notification of an Ofsted inspection so shortly after her death and before her funeral could be held was very difficult personally and Ofsted refused to defer the inspection, which I requested.

“Although I am anxious this is not seen as an excuse, it did mean this was a difficult time for me, my colleagues and other staff who know me well.

“As a church school, we are a close family and supportive of each other at such times.”

However, Ofsted disputes her claims. A spokesman said: “Ofsted has a published process for schools to formally request inspection deferrals.

“While the inspection team for St Mary’s was made aware of and was sensitive to the headteacher’s personal circumstances, the headteacher did not request to defer.

“She was indeed happy for the inspection to go ahead.”

The inspectors praised the school in a number of areas, including enabling good spiritual, social and moral development of pupils, the headteacher’s work with the governing body and pupils’ behaviour and safety.