THE headteacher of an ‘outstanding’ primary school where children had some of their SATs results annulled is currently “absent from school”, it has emerged.

Barrow URC Primary School in Clitheroe has had the English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2 test results’ written off by the Standards and Testing Agency, which carried out a “maladministration” investigation.

The school wrote to parents before Christmas informing of the action taken by the agency and this week as children returned to school after the festive break, parents were informed that the headteacher was not in school and an interim head had been appointed.

Neither Lancashire County Council or the school have detailed the reasons for headteacher Janet Pay’s absence or why the results were written off following the investigation.

A department for education spokesperson said: “Any instance of maladministration of the National Curriculum tests is completely unacceptable.

“Following an investigation into the administration of 2019 Key Stage 2 tests at Barrow URC Primary School, the English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2 test results were annulled for the whole cohort.”

Year Six pupils take the Key Stage Two national curriculum tests in the summer, with results of each school being published by the department for education in December.

None of Barrow URC Primary School’s SATs results were published, with ‘NA’ being written in place of the results. This includes results for the number of children meeting the expected standard in reading, maths and writing and the number of pupils achieving at a higher standard.

In a statement to The Lancashire Telegraph James Johnstone, chair of governors at Barrow URC Primary School, said: “I can confirm that Mrs Taylor will be the acting headteacher, during the period that Mrs Pay is not in school.

“The leadership of the school will be fully covered during this time, and there will be no disruption to teaching.

“ I would encourage any parent or carer with any questions to raise them directly with Mrs Taylor, or myself.

“Our paramount concern is always to provide pupils with the education that they deserve.”

A letter to parents ­— signed by chairman of governors Mr Johnstone and headteacher Janet Pay ­— sent out in late November stated: “It is with regret to advise the Standard and Testing Agency have decided to annul the spelling paper 2 results from Year Six last year in May 2019. The grammar and punctuation, reading, writing and mathematics papers are unaffected.

“Families affected have been sent more information.

“We wish to give you our reassurance that the children are NOT affected in anyway as a result of this decision.”

The letter adds: “The administration of tests are taken extremely seriously and the findings from the Standard and Testing Agency will be investigated.

“We give our reassurances that the governing body at Barrow Primary School, will look to ensure this does not happen again in the future.”

In another letter sent out on Monday, the start of the new term, signed by Mr Johnstone, announced the headteacher was “currently absent from school”.

The letter states: “Mrs Pay is currently absent from school and in the meantime, Mrs Taylor will be taking on the role of interim HT from tomorrow to ensure that school continues to provide high quality education for all the children.

“I am sure you will all extend a warm Barrow welcome to Mrs Taylor during her time working with us in school.”

Barrow URC Primary School was rated “outstanding” in 2013 and 2010, under the leadership of previous headteacher Christine Marchi.

In 2018, 81 per cent of children reached the expected standard in the 3Rs.

Places at the school are hugely in demand, so much so that it applied for the single-storey add-on and games area at its Whalley Road site to help it accommodate the growing number of families wanting their children to attend.

The Standards and Testing Agency remit when investigating concerns of maladministration is to determine whether there is doubt over the accuracy or correctness of children’s results and/or outcomes for the national curriculum assessments.

It does not apportion blame for maladministration or take part in any disciplinary procedures relating to maladministration.