Headteacher of Pocklington Junior School

Headteacher Alex Reppold.
Headteacher Alex Reppold.

At the moment I am working with my governors to recruit new staff.

Having been through the process of applying for jobs last year, I know what it’s like to try and sum myself up in a couple of pages of text. Now on the other side of the table, it’s remarkable how careful you have to be to monitor how you are judging candidates.

Ofsted inspectors have the best of intentions and want every school to be the best it can be.

Ofsted inspectors have the best of intentions and want every school to be the best it can be.

Obviously it’s vital that any application is grammatically correct and appropriately worded – especially as these individuals will be passing on these skills to our children – but each application needs to sell how the candidate will fit into our staff team, share our values and demonstrate commitment to the local community... all in two sides of A4.

You may have seen the report on our recent Ofsted inspection in the Pocklington Post. I’m proud of our school, and although we’re not yet where we need to be, I’m very pleased where we are on the journey. But it does still worry me that those who only see the overall judgement of ‘Requires Improvement’, or even read the full Ofsted document (which is available on our school’s website), will miss out on understanding the full richness of what makes our school the place it is.

Just like the applicants having to define themselves in two pages, our Ofsted report sums up the attitudes, aspirations, behaviours and rates of progress of nearly 250 pupils and 50 staff in a few sheets of A4. I don’t envy the job of an Ofsted inspector, as from this document judgements will be made by parents, the community and the Government.

What I’m not trying to say is that this is unfair. I’m going to go out on a limb, and probably alienate myself from a lot of teachers, when I say that I am in favour of Ofsted; I believe they have the best intentions in that they are impartial, highly trained and ultimately want each and every school to be the best it can be for the communities they serve. In my school’s particular case, I think our inspectors were fair and supportive and saw all the good we are doing.

I only hope that members of the community realise there is more to us – and more to every school – than what can be captured in black and white. We work very hard on making sure we include every child, share in every triumph whether that’s learning to swim 10 metres or whether you have passed grade 1 violin, teach tolerance, respect for authority and care for one another. A description on paper has its merits and its limits, so if you really want to understand something you have to experience it.

I’m looking forward to meeting the candidates we have shortlisted as I will be able to have a much fuller understanding of who they are and what they believe in than what they’ve been able to capture in writing; in the same way, look to the children every school works with to judge the effectiveness of a school – the can tell you more about the quality of education than a piece of paper ever can.