An Ofsted report published today that grades Spalding Academy as “inadequate” has come too early to reflect the positive changes at the school since its leadership changed, says the head teacher.
Inspectors said the 908-pupil school requires special measures after visiting just six weeks after it changed its name from the Sir John Gleed School and relaunched, under the umbrella of The South Lincolnshire Academies Trust.
I am very proud of the strong teamwork that is already in place which unites the staff and students in what is a community school with exciting potentialExecutive head teacher Laurence Reilly
Inspectors visited on October 18 and 19 and said effectiveness of leadership and management, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, outcomes for pupils and 16 to 19 study programmes were all inadequate, while personal development, behaviour and welfare requires improvement.
But executive head teacher of the Trust Laurence Reilly said: “I was surprised that Ofsted visited us so early after we came to the school; we had not even had time to collect our first set of whole school student performance data.
“The team were apologetic but had to make their judgements based on the results since the previous inspection of the Sir John Gleed School and the leadership of the school at that time, whilst acknowledging the many fundamental changes that we have already introduced.
“It is no surprise that we are basing the model of the new school on the methodology adopted successfully at Bourne Academy in recent years. However, I recognise the unique identity of Spalding Academy and am very proud of the strong teamwork that is already in place which unites the staff and students in what is a community school with exciting potential.
“Our aim is to make this a good school (in Ofsted terms) within two years, a big challenge but an achievable one. The students here are delightful and appear genuinely pleased with the education and opportunities that we are providing for them.”
A statement from the school read: “The Ofsted team commented on the changes that have taken place since September being recent, but their scale is significant. The report reflects positively the new curriculum, new assessment systems, updated targets for attainment and progress and improved systems to reward behaviour, all implemented since September.”
Inspectors echoed Mr Reilly’s optimisim, saying: “Newly appointed leaders have a strong record of accomplishment in a school with a similar pupil intake (Bourne Academy). They have drawn up plans for improvement quickly and precisely, and have improved site security and the school’s learning environment.
“Pupils and staff are very positive about the many changes introduced since September. They confirm that behaviour is improving and expectations for achievement are higher. They believe that the school is improving rapidly.”
However, in grading the school “inadequate, Ofsted said: “Little of the school has improved since the previous inspection in March 2015. Governors have not held senior staff to account. The school’s use of additional funding for disadvantaged pupils has not helped these pupils to make sufficient progress.
“All groups of pupils made poor progress from their starting points in 2015 and 2016, across a wide range of subjects and year groups. The teaching does not take sufficient account of what the pupils know, understand and can do already.
“Too much teaching has been ineffective, especially in science and mathematics. Inaccurate information about the progress pupils made has led to school leaders believing that progress has been better than it actually was.”
It went on: “Assessments of pupils’ work have been over-optimistic and led to inaccurate priorities for improvement. The systems used to improve the behaviour of
some pupils, especially boys, have not been effective. Behaviour has improved this term.
“Attendance has been well below average but has improved this term. The school has experienced a significant number of leadership changes within a short space of time.
“Staff and pupils feel that too many of the school’s policies have been ineffective and expectations for different groups of pupils have been too low.
”Only a small number of subjects are on offer for sixth-form students to study. Too few students have been able to move on to higher education.”
In order to further improve, inspectors said the school needs to improve leadership and management and improve teaching so that all groups of pupils, especially the disadvantaged, the most able and those who speak English as an additional language (around 25 per cent), make the progress they should, especially in mathematics and science.