The Canadians are coming!
Teachers from halfway across the world are heading for Spalding in September, attracted by the charms of our historic market town – and a school that is on its way back.
Staff at Sir John Gleed School are celebrating this week having received their latest Ofsted monitoring report which states “reasonable progress is being made towards removal of special measures”.
When the Spalding Guardian visited the school on Tuesday, the day before the report was made public, it was rocking to the “Happy” song during the year achievement assembly.
Two of the biggest smiles were on the faces of headteacher Will Scott and his executive principal, Chris Mallaband.
Mr Mallaband, who joined the school in April following his success helping to turn around a similar school in south London, said a new positive era was about to begin – and the good news had already attracted staff from overseas.
He said: “Recruitment has always been a big issue. Last year the school needed 11 full-time staff, but now there is just one vacancy.
“We went along to a recruitment day in a London hotel, taking brochures and everything we could find to sell Spalding as an idyllic market town, just a short distance from cities (when you consider how far Canadians travel), with cheap accomodation – and to promote the school as one with great potential.
“It was a bit like speed-dating, but four who came for a visit and were taken on a heritage tour by one of our teachers loved it.
“The children will love them because they say things like ‘awesome’ – we are very excited.”
The teachers from Canada – Melissa McCarthy, Dawn Lunan and Andrew Schneider – will be joined by an Irish teacher, Amye Wilson, who also gave Gleed the thumbs-up at the recruitment day.
With fewer supply teachers and a focus on learning, punctuality, politeness and positivity, it is hoped the school will finally be out of special measures by Christmas.
Mr Mallaband said: “If not Christmas, certainly by next Easter, after which we should see a big improvement in student achievement.
“When this year’s GCSE results come out this summer it could be too soon for the measures we have put in place to make a significant difference, but we are still hopeful there will be an improvement.
“That will be down to the hard work of teachers and students. Already I have seen an impact. Two years ago, following the merger, it was a desperate time for the school. Mergers are always messy and it resulted in a collosal loss of confidence in the school. I’m not surprised it went into meltdown.
“But now all that can change. Next year it is within our reach for Gleed to be a ‘good’ school and our next goal will to become an outstanding school. It is within our reach and Spalding deserves it.”
Headteacher Will Scott said: “It is so encouraging to see that all their hard work is paying dividends.”
OFSTED MONITORING REPORT
Sir John Gleed School in Spalding was placed into special measures in April 2013 following a turbulent merger of Gleed Boys’ School and Gleed Girls’ Technology College in November 2011.
In the latest Ofsted monitoring report released yesterday, being told it can now recruit up to two newly-qualified teachers shows just how much progress has been made across all four areas inspected – achievement of pupils, behaviour and safety of pupils, quality of leadership and management and, most notably, quality of teaching.
The report acknowledges “teaching is undergoing rapid transformation” and “improvements are clearly beginning to have a positive impact”. As a result, inspectors noted that students are “motivated, engaged in their work and keen to do well”.
Students’ behaviour was also praised: “Students behave well around the academy. They are calm, orderly and co-operative and they contribute well to a cohesive school community.”
On pupil achievement, the inspectors stated “rates of progress for students in Year 11 have risen” and “students in Year 10 are expected to perform better”. The monitoring visit also commented on the hard work being done at leadership and management level.
Having interviewed staff, inspectors found “the ambition and determination to become a good school quickly is widely shared across the staff.”
Governors’ hard work in increasing “the involvement of parents in their child’s education” was noted, as was the support offered by the school’s sponsor, CfBT Schools Trust.