Problems at college are so disappointing

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AS a parent of a lad possibly going to Long Sutton’s Peele Community College next year, recent events there have obviously caused me much concern.

Up until a few weeks ago the Peele was seen by me and many others as a school that had recovered after years of adversity and was on an upward path.

The headteacher, Ian Charles, seemed like a tough but fair man who was leading it up that path.

What has happened since has left me confused and no doubt baffled many of the parents of the 600-plus children there, the students themselves and many of the teachers.

Even if we accept that Mr Charles’ leadership was not good enough (not a view shared by Ofsted), the behaviour of the senior governors has left too many in the dark.

First they tell parents that the head is absent but they won’t expand. Then his name is taken off the school sign and the door of his office. When an official comment is finally released, a week after Mr Charles’ enforced absence began, it is confusing to say the least.

Basically, he has been suspended while they review his performance following a “disappointing” Ofsted inspection, the Local Authority’s School Self-evaluation Review and an independent report on the leadership of the college.

No date has yet been set for the meeting and no further statement will be made until after it has been held.

Were things so bad that he needed to be suspended while his performance is investigated? If so, did the governors really have to leave a gap of 14 days before they made a statement? Fourteen days for all sorts of rumours to be born.

Now, when I was told my lad was to take his 11-plus exam this September, I was very relaxed, sure in the knowledge he would be going to a pretty decent establishment at the Peele should he not make the grade that would take him to Spalding Grammar School.

He knew he would have friends at either place so was also losing no sleep over the prospect of an exam that decades ago could be seen as life defining.

When Alfie was born in 2002 I must admit I was a little worried at the prospect of him one day attending the Peele as I was aware that its reputation wasn’t the best.

However, over ten years, I had seen it grow from strength to strength. My own nephews went there and one left with a whole bundle of great GCSE passes. The other had his heart set on a career in carpentry, so they paved a vocational path in this direction for him.

Recently, I have visited the school on several occasions and hosted students here as I try to help them with their citizenship GCSE. I have been impressed with their politeness, respect and enthusiasm.

And in February we reported that the school was continuing on its upward path with a decent Ofsted report, saying it had improved steadily for three years.

I had hoped our story last month about a teacher leaving after failing to set GCSE course work and falsifying grades was a one-off piece of misfortune for the college. But recent events have proved that not to be the case.

Let’s hope the school sorts out its problems and moves forward, with transparency, as quickly as is possible.