JLife speaks to the Bury and Whitefield Jewish Primary School’s Headteacher, Claire Simon, on the school’s positive Ofsted result and her pending retirement.
Pupils and staff at Bury and Whitefield Jewish Primary School (BWJPS) are celebrating after receiving a good rating across all categories by Ofsted this year.
After giving the school a two-day inspection in March, the governing body were quick to highlight the school’s strong sense of British values through the teaching of various religious festivals, families, and relationships between members of the community.
The new results are a welcoming sight for Headteacher Claire Simon, who was faced with harsh criticism from Ofsted during the school’s previous visit in 2018: “We were very upset by the report four years ago, as we felt the inspector wasn’t listening to what we had to say about our goals and progress. He also said we were making up the data outlining the school’s positive exam results. Even the rest of the headteachers across Bury thought it was a joke.”
“It’s damaging to go through such a rigorous process. As the headteacher, you are responsible for the school, and any external judgement of the school rests on you. But instead of walking away, I was determined to lead the school back towards getting a good judgement on the next inspection.”
With previous delays to inspect the school due to pandemic-related absences from the school’s pupils and staff, the confirmed date to inspect the school was only given to Claire at a half days’ notice: “We were on tenterhooks every week wondering when we’d get the call back from Ofsted, who were dealing with such a heavy backlog. But overall, we definitely had a much fairer experience than before.”
The new Ofsted results also mark a positive end to Claire’s headteacher role at the school as she retires this year after 43 years of teaching. Before taking over the leading role at BWJPS in 2010, Claire spent most of her career leading departments and year groups across various high schools, and now plans to pass on her knowledge to other headteachers in Bury through a mentoring programme.
“It now feels like the right time to finish,” said Claire. “The plan is to focus on my family by spending more time with my grandchildren and seeing a bit more of the world with my husband. At the same time, it will be a pleasure to talk to other headteachers about my experiences working in education and see how I can help them.
“I’ve loved every day I’ve spent in the 12 years of leading BWJPS and helping other schools succeed. The fact the school accomplished a good rating in all the examined areas made us smiling and happy again. Now that someone can see what a great school we are, our confidence is back.
“Hopefully this will leave a lasting impact for parents in the future who are seeking out a school for their child when there is such a wide choice out there.”