School Denies Teacher Told To Tone Accent Down

The Chair of Governors at the Whitelands Park Primary in Thatcham say a teacher said to have been instructed to tone down her accent - is not true.

Paul Dick, Chair of the Board of Governors at the Whitelands Park Primary in Thatcham says claims by a union rep that a teacher was instructed by an Ofsted official to work on her northern accent, is nonsense.

The Whitelands Park Primary is currently a West Berkshire Council run school, but is due to become an academy in 2014 - to be headed by the nearby Kennet School, run by Mr Dick.

Speaking to Heart, Mr Dick says during a recent internal staff meeting, teachers were discussing what their Ofsted objectives were and one teacher had jokingly said "to work on my northern accent".

But the comment appears to have been taken seriously by a union rep and requested the teacher join them in condemning the call.

But Mr Dick told Heart the teacher in question, who hasn't been named, had not agreed to the move at all as her comments were obviously not meant to be taken seriously. Mr Dick said it had left the teacher tearful and had wanted "nothing further to do with the union."

Heart requested a comment from the Berkshire representative of the NASUWT, who declined our invitation.

In a statement to Heart from Ofsted: "Inspectors judge the quality of teaching at schools. Negative comments about the suitability of regional accents are clearly inappropriate, and form no part of our assessment of a school's or teacher’s performance. Indeed, the school has confirmed that there was never any mention of regional accents by the inspectors." 

Meanwhile in a statement from West Berkshire Council: "Following the press reports, we have had discussions with the school who assure us that the incident was not as reported in the press, no such instruction had been given to any teacher there, in which case there is nothing to investigate."

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