Councillor criticises inspection

Ellon councillor Gillian Owen
Ellon councillor Gillian Owen

An Ellon councilllor has claimed an inspection at a local school and nursery amounted to “overkill”.

Councillor Gillian Owen was speaking after a critical report on Newburgh Mathers School by Education Scotland inspectors following a visit in January.

The findings were discussed at a meeting of Formartine Area Committee last week. Inspectors found the school was satisfactory in some areas and weak in others.

Head teacher Gaye Stevenson, spoke at the committee and defended the school, pointing out an action plan was in place and that the appraisal did not give an accurate picture of the ongoing progress.

Councillor Owen said that sending in six inspectors would “appear to be overkill”.

She added: “The inspection evaluations for Newburgh Mathers do not reflect at all the ongoing work that has been achieved

by the whole school.

“Sending six inspectors would also appear to be overkill. By all means train inspectors but perhaps schools should be warned. “After all, should you go and see your doctor and they have a trainee with them they all ask out of courtesy.

“This undoubtedly puts more pressure on head teachers and their staff. We need to ask the question of the inspectors, why has the bar been raised so far above previous standards.”

The councillor said that tough HMIe reports could push teachers away from the profession as Aberdeenshire Council works hard to recruit them.

She added: “The HMIe report is disappointing not just for the authority, but for the head teacher and all her staff, the pupils and parents.

“Newburgh Mathers is an excellent school with a good head teacher surrounded by an excellent team.

“We must help them with the challenges ahead and not be too quick to judge on the basis of an HMIE report that is less than fair.”

Following the Newburgh Mathers visit and appraisal, Education Scotland inspectors will return to assess the school again within the next year.