Thursday, 11 August 2022

Parents' enthusiasm is vital for school, says new head

Parents' enthusiasm is vital for school, says new head

THE new headteacher of Chiltern Edge School says she has been overwhelmed by the support for the under-threat secondary.

Moira Green has been drafted in to run the Sonning Common school after it was placed in special measures following an “inadequate” rating by Ofsted in April.

On Monday, she will take over as interim headteacher at the 507-pupil school in Reades Lane from Daniel Sadler, who is on sick leave.

The school’s future is still in the balance as Oxfordshire County Council, the education authority, is carrying out public consultation on possible closure.

Parents, former staff and residents have been campaigning to save the school and more than 2,400 people have signed a petition opposing closure.

Miss Green, who lives in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, said: “The amount of support for the school is overwhelmingly astonishing.

“The parents have mobilised themselves and the way they have acted so quickly and been so supportive of the school is phenomenal.”

Miss Green urged the county council to keep the school open when it makes its decision after the consultation ends next month.

She said: “There are no other viable options for the children here who need an exceptional education — that’s the bottom line.”

Miss Green was head of music at Langtree School in Woodcote from 1996 to 2002 and also helped mentor young music teachers at Chiltern Edge and Icknield Community College in Watlington.

She was then an assistant headteacher at a school in Nottinghamshire, deputy headteacher at a 1,700-pupil school in Peterborough and headteacher at a school in London for two years before turning to consultancy work.

Miss Green said: “I had an opportunity to take a different route and decided to become a consultant so I became interim head at schools in circumstances such as this one.

“I thought I would be able to have more of an impact on a greater number of students and teaching staff. What I discovered about myself was I love being in the school setting.”

Miss Green’s most recent interim appointment was at Darlington School of Maths and Science.

She said: “We spent a lot of time bringing up standards and the children did exceptionally well due to improved quality of teaching and learning.”

Miss Green says her main focus at Chiltern Edge will be on raising the standards of teaching and learning.

“What’s going on in the classroom, that’s the most important thing,” she said. “I will be going round every day checking what is happening, to congratulate where it’s going well and having a word where people need more support.”

She has already been into school to support year 11 pupils preparing for GCSE exams before half-term.

“I am still passionate about teaching personally,” said Miss Green. “I don’t teach music — when you move into a senior leadership role you go back to your core subject. Now I teach maths.”

She also spoke to staff about them working together for the benefit of the pupils and began work on balancing the budget for the new academic year starting in September — there is currently a deficit of £300,000.

Miss Green said: “There are three things the council is concerned about. The first is whether there is a need for school places in the area and there is because there are houses being built.

“The second is about the financial suitability of the school. I am going to make sure we have a balanced budget by the time we start the new school year. With those two things it leaves the single main focus, which is what’s going on in the classroom.”

Miss Green said the key to a successful school was a good relationship between staff, students and parents.

“Right now the parents are doing an amazing thing with the support they are providing,” she said. “If we make the children and staff feel good about themselves they will go that extra mile.”

Miss Green plans to invite in a successful former pupil each week to speak to the students. “There are some very prominent ones and I want to hear from all of them,” she said.

She will stay at the school for the foreseeable future regardless of the result of the consultation.

Miss Green said: “Parents should be optimistic. The school has the potential to grow — 1,000 students is realistic because of the space and the buildings the school has. It could be the council finds a local solution.”

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