Raimund Sanders Draper was an American volunteer who flew Spitfires in the Second World War and on the 24th March, 1943 he crashed landed. His plane developed catastrophic engine failure immediately after take-off. In his direct flight path were two schools with hundreds of children in them. He made an instantaneous decision to sacrifice his life and save theirs. In 1973, Suttons Secondary School was renamed Sanders Draper School to honour his memory. Forty years later the school was renamed Sanders school. This was deeply resented in the community as an act of disrespect.
Sanders Draper was an under-performing school in 2013. Headteacher, John McEachern, decided that renaming the school would improve achievement. He believed the name ‘Sanders Draper’ was synonymous with failure. It’s difficult to understand his reasoning. To lift achievement by a name change seems unlikely at best. It might work for soap powder but educational achievement is complex and multi-faceted. Yet he did believe it and he persuaded the governors to change the name despite voracious opposition. The outcome?
John McEachern’s leadership led to a reduction of achievement based on expectations from primary school evidence. (see Addendum: 1 and 2) The adjacent Suttons primary school is rated ‘good’ by OFSTED, which further highlights his disappointing leadership.
John McEachern and the governors had a tragic lack of self-awareness. They were blind to their failure, which caused mediocre achievement. Instead, they engineered a puerile quick fix and a pointless provocation to a community proud of their history. They were replaced in 2017.
Sanders school is now part of SFAET, an academy trust.
Addendum: OFSTED reports
(1) “Students join the school with attainment which is broadly average. The group of students who took their examinations in 2013 unusually had above average attainment on entry. Although the proportion achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C including English and mathematics improved and was above the national average, the progress made by these students was less than average.” 2014 OFSTED Report p6
(2) “Pupils attained standards at least in line with the overall national averages in GCSE examinations. However, variations between groups of pupils, including the most able, the most able disadvantaged and disadvantaged boys, and between subjects, meant that overall improvements in outcomes were modest.”* 2017 OFSTED Report p6
* ‘modest’ means non-existent.
For the name change see https://www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/news/education/anger-at-disrespectful-name-change-of-hornchurch-school-named-after-hero-pilot-sanders-draper-1-3545992 See also https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2603118/Anger-school-named-heroic-Spitfire-pilot-sacrificed-save-hundreds-pupils-changes-name.html
For the 2013 OFSTED Report see https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/2193029
For the 2014 OFSTED Report see https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/2430137 especially p6
For the 2017 OFSTED Report see https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/2676415 especially p6
For the current government performance analysis see https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/school/146309/sanders-school/secondary
For the first OFSTED Report (2018) after the resignation of John McEachern see https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/2772447