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Ofsted inspectors break up fight at Wayfield Primary, Chatham

By Clare Freeman

The Ofsted report on Wayfield Primary, Chatham described an “unsafe and chaotic situation” with pupils bashing into each other and the walls and throwing themselves across and along dinner tables in the hall.

Ofsted said the Griffin Schools Trust (GST), which runs the school, failed to ensure that the pupils received a suitable education or that they were kept safe.

Angry parents at Wayfield Primary School. Picture Steve Crispe

Angry parents at Wayfield Primary School. Picture: Steve Crispe

Wayfield ward councillor Tristan Osborne said he will be writing to the Regional School Standards Commissioner to call for immediate investigation into the trust after reading a report in Friday's Medway Messenger.

Ofsted ranked the school in Wayfield Road, Chatham, which has 230 pupils and a part-time nursery, as inadequate across the board and said it required special measures.

The two inspectors said they “observed some unpleasant instances of unchecked misbehaviour by pupils”, including the fight, in which they had to intervene to protect the children.

In another incident in an infant class, pupils continuously threw items at other children, with one being hit in the face. Inspectors said staff were present but did not deal with or appear to notice the misconduct.

In one lesson, they found pupils struggled because the work in their groups was too difficult for them but the teacher did not adjust it or intervene with pupils who were fighting in the corner of the classroom.

The inspectors also saw pupils coming in from playtimes upset and then left alone by staff. When inspectors asked what was wrong, the children mentioned bullying, name-calling or rough behaviour by other pupils and said staff did nothing to stop it.

Most parents who responded to Ofsted’s parent questionnaire said their children felt unsafe at school and that the school did not deal with bullying well.

Samantha Gould, whose 10-year-old twins attend the school, said: “I had to fight to get my children into there when we moved from the Isle of Grain and now I regret it.

“They were in the gifted and talented class when they came here and within two years they’re falling so far behind. It’s not right that I should be paying someone to be tutoring my children who are capable of getting into grammar school. That’s what they go to school for.”

She said parents felt excluded from the school, and she had tried to set up a homework club so mums and dads could learn how to help their children at home but had not been supported by the school.

A spokesman said the Griffin Schools Trust, which runs the school, valued its parent community very highly. In 2015 it formed a single governing body for its four Medway schools and invited all existing governors to join but at that time there were no parent governors on the Wayfield board.

During the inspection in May, they found the school’s record-keeping of child protection matters was uncoordinated and sloppy; outcomes for pupils had plummeted; and leadership and management were weak.

The inspectors praised aspects of the school, such as pupils who helped sweep the hall at lunchtime, and said head teacher Michael O’Grady worked very hard and was popular.

The school converted to become an academy under the GST in November 2013, and earlier that year it had been ranked good by Ofsted.

Wayfield Primary School, Wayfield Road, Chatham. Picture Steve Crispe

Wayfield Primary School, Wayfield Road, Chatham. Picture: Steve Crispe

The trust also runs Kingfisher Primary, Chatham; Saxon Way Primary, Gillingham; and Lordswood Primary. Primary First Trust will take over the running of Wayfield in September – the transfer was announced in May.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Wayfield Primary School has been rated inadequate, which is clearly not good enough. Prior to the inspection, we were already working with the GST to transfer Wayfield to another sponsor, the Primary First Trust.

“Regional school commissioners continually monitor the performance of all trusts in their regions and will continue to do so at the GST.”

A GST spokesman said: “Our school improvement team continues to work hard with Wayfield Primary to address the points raised by Ofsted.

“In the face of current teacher shortages, securing a strong leadership team for Wayfield Primary School has proved challenging.”

She added: “We are working with the Primary First Trust to ensure a smooth transition.”

The trust said its other three Medway schools were on an “upward trajectory” and had improved significantly over the past two years.

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