Head teacher removed after failing to improve school

Cathy Mady was removed as the head of Knowepark Primary in Selkirk

A SCOTS headteacher has been removed from her £60,000-a-year job amid claims she failed to improve the “weak” education at the primary she ran.

Cathy Mady was ousted as head of Knowepark Primary,  Selkirk, after inspectors spent two days at the school last week.

The school, which has almost 300 pupils, has been criticised in reports going back four years for “passive learning”.

Scottish Borders Council confirmed today Ms Mady was still employed “in education” by the council but refused to say what she was doing or if she was facing disciplinary action.

Parents received a letter from the council late last week confirming that the Ms Mady, 48, had been removed from her post.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) reported on the school in 2008, 2010 and 2011, demanding improvements on both occasions.

The 2008 report said pupils were not given sufficiently interesting tasks to do in lessons, and the brightest pupils were not being challenged.

It said teachers were not planning how to meet individual pupils’ needs.

The report stated: “Overall, pupils’ learning experiences were weak. On too many occasions, learning activities were unchallenging and did not stimulate independent thinking.

“Pupils were too often passive learners.”

The report in 2010 said: “Too often, children’s learning is too dependent on text books.”

Yet another report, in May 2011, acknowledged improvements had been made, but “approaches to meeting learning needs are not yet strong enough.”


 This led to the council drawing up an action plan to improve the school.

Today (thur) the council said change was not coming fast enough.

A spokesman said: “Following discussions with the headteacher and management team and staff, SBC has taken action to change the current management structure within Knowepark Primary.

“This change has resulted in the withdrawal of the current head teacher from the school and a continuation of the of the additional head teacher who has been working to support the improvement agenda at Knowepark since January.

“This change has been made following concerns that improvements within the action plan, developed in response to the HMIe inspection, were not progressing fast enough. Parents and carers have been informed of these decisions and the changes made.”

The council’s education director Glen Roger added: “I am confident that staff and the council will work together to ensure that the children at Knowepark receive the best possible education and I will be monitoring the situation very closely.”

A spokesman added today: “We can’t say what she’s doing just now. She’s still in the education sector.”

Union chiefs have criticised the decision to remove the head, and blamed the local council for the school’s failings.

The local secretary of the EIS teaching union, Kay Miller, said the HMIE reports praised Ms Mady.

She said: “The report issued last May praised Ms Mady, while urging that the pace of change to implement the Curriculum for Excellence needed to be increased by staff.

“But it crucially stated that, in order to achieve that improvement, the school would need further support from the council.

“The feedback I am getting is that the head teacher and her staff have been frustrated because they do not really know what is expected of them to meet the targets of the action plan referred to.

“I have certainly had no feedback that Knoewpark pupils going up to Selkirk High School are in any way underperforming compared to students from other primaries in the catchement.

“These are stressful times for teachers and this union is concerned about the well-being of all staff at Knowepark.

“Considering this decision was taken before the inspectors had published a report, I think serious questions have to be asked about the role of the local authority and how things got to this stage.”

The move at Knowepark Primary comes as the Scottish Government is rolling out its Curriculum for Excellence, which aims to improve standards across all primary and secondary schools.

New exams are due to come into effect next year, replacing Standard Grade and Intermediate qualifications.