A Skegness school is celebrating after a ‘positive’ Ofsted monitoring inspection reported necessary steps are being taken towards its removal from special measures.
Skegness Academy is now hoping the hard word of staff and students and an improved set of GCSE results in the summer will finally see it out of special measures by the autumn - ending years of uncertainty that have marred its progess.
“This is massive news,” said principal Gary Carlile. “The ‘positive’ monitoring report we have received from Ofsted is as good as we can get.
“There will be another inspection to monitor our continued progress and we hope to be released from special measures by the autumn.”
The school was plunged into special measures in May 2017 after an Ofsted Section 5 inspection outlined a catalogue of areas for imporovement, including raising the quality of leadership, as well as Improving “teaching, learning and assessment, personal development, behaviour and welfare”.
There had also been concerns about attendance, with calls for the school to reduce the number of excluded pupils and “ensure that all pupils and groups of pupils attend school... particularly disadvantaged pupils and pupils”.
Concerns over the quality of leadership reflected a turbulent few years regards staffing.
In March 2014, principal Ian Corns resigned for ‘personal reasons’, followed by the resignation of his replacement Geoff Wilson after only months in the post.
Jo Edwards, who had been education advisor for the School Partnership Trust, took on the role in September 2016 with high hopes for the progress of the school.
However, by February last year Greenwood Academies Trust announced it would be quitting as sponsor only to change its mind later in the year when a replacement could not be found.
Then in October 2017, the Trust announced Mrs Edwards ‘unexplained’ absense and that former principal of Nottingham Girls’ Academy Peter Holyk would be taking her place.
Mr Carlile took over in January last year and has since been establishing a strong leadership team
In a letter to the school following the monitoring inspection in December, Deirdre Duignan, Senior Her Majesty’s Inspector, said: “Leaders and managers are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures. The school’s action plan is fit for purpose.”
The report states: “Leaders have put in place a coherent plan to improve the quality of teaching,learning and assessment.
“There are encouraging signs that leaders are successfully eradicating inadequate teaching.
“Teachers now routinely meet pupils at the door when lessons begin and are more likely to challenge poor behaviour in class. Pupils are beginning to respond to these raised expectations and are increasingly ready to start learning promptly.
“There are increasing examples of staff from different departments correcting pupils’ spelling, grammar and punctuation. Likewise, the use of key words is becoming more consistent in different subjects and is helping pupils to improve their basic literacy.”
BehaviouR around the school has also improved. The report states: “Since the previous visit, there have been marked improvements in behaviour around the school. Breaktimes and lunchtimes are more orderly, with less boisterous behaviour and poor language than were noted at the previous visit. Pupils, in turn, are responding to the higher expectations being placed on them. They understand the sanctions in place for poor behaviour.”
Pupils told inspectors that teachers would take swift action in response to incidents of bullying. “They have a mature understanding of why it is important to respect difference and are confident that, for example, instances of homophobic or racist language would not be tolerated.“
Leaders’ efforts to promote a positive school culture are increasingly successful.
The report said: “This was evident in the activities taking place during the inspection, such as the carol concert and pantomime. Also, the ‘academy pledge’ that is aimed at ensuring that all pupils – regardless of their background – have equal opportunities to take part in a range of cultural and social activities is having a positive impact.”
Mr Carlile concluded: “We are delighted that Ofsted have basically given our new leadership team a big ‘thumbs-up’. The positive report could not have been achieved without the hard work of our staff and the students.”