Meri O'Connell

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Reading West, Meri O’Connell responds to the latest Reading OFSTED report:

Many of you will by now have seen the worrying headlines in the local press about Reading’s failing primary schools. As a parent of 3 primary aged children who attend one of the schools that has received 2 ‘requires improvement’ notices from OFSTED, I am really concerned that local parents will be scared that their children are not getting a good enough education.

Whilst inspections have their uses and can be used for improving standards, this is not always the case. OFSTED can be a very blunt tool for measuring how well a school serves its pupils and community. It only uses very specific measures and is continually changing its own rules and requirements depending on the whims of Westminster. Head Teachers are exhausted from the constantly shifting hoops they have to jump through.

The overwhelming majority of teachers and support staff in Reading are extremely dedicated and hardworking. They strive daily to engage and support our children and I’m concerned about the additional stress and workload that they will be under from an increased inspection regime.

Good teachers are leaving the profession for easier, better paid jobs – the current politically driven OFSTED regime contributes massively to this haemorrhage. As a society we need to start valuing our educators and trusting them to get on with the job of teaching our children.

Whilst RBC clearly needs to up its game with better supporting those school’s that need help, I don’t want to see political point scoring made out of my children’s education. All political parties should be looking at how they can better work together to ensure that all Reading pupils have the very best start in life.

Let’s not use this disappointing OFSTED result as a chance to bash each other in an attempt to win votes. Reading parents, myself included, want constructive action not petty squabbling from their local and national politicians.