A SCHOOL has been labelled ‘inadequate’ due to its pupils’ achievements ‘declining significantly’ – but its new head has vowed to turn things around.
Jackie Cooper, who has previously worked in three challenging schools, took on the headship at William Allitt School, in Sunnyside, Newhall, just a few weeks after its latest Ofsted inspection in April.
She said she was determined to pick up the pieces after the education watchdog placed the school into special measures yesterday.
Nasim Butt, lead inspector, found achievement of pupils, leadership and management and quality of teaching were all ‘inadequate’, while the behaviour and safety of pupils required improvement.
In the report, the inspector said: “The pupils’ achievements, particularly that of boys, is inadequate in several subjects, including English and maths.
“Teachers do not correct pupils’ spelling, grammar and punctuation sufficiently and behaviour requires improvement because some pupils lose concentration in lessons, leading to low-level disruption.
However, that attendance is above average as a result of the ‘determined and successful efforts’ the school has made to work with families to improve it.
But despite attendance, Ofsted found that ‘standards by the end of Year 11 had declined significantly. In 2013, the proportion of pupils gaining five or more A* to C grades at GCSE was below the national average, and lower than is was in 2012.’
However, it has been noted that information on pupils’ current progress indicates that they are now making reasonable progress across all year groups in a wide range of subjects but that the rate of progress is not fast enough to make up for previous underachievement.
Ms Cooper said: “They acknowledge improvements were already being seen and we are continuing to build on our strengths to raise expectations and achievement through high quality teaching and learning with a broad and engaging curriculum.”
Head teacher drafted in
THE new head teacher drafted in to turn the fortunes of William Allitt around has already worked in three ‘challenging’ schools.
Jackie Cooper has joined the school, in Sunnyside, Newhall, on the back of a two-year period of struggle for the school after it was previously judged as ‘requiring improvement’, formerly known as ‘satisfactory’, in 2012.
Despite starting in April – just after the latest inspection – she is already putting in place measures of improvement and will discuss the damning inspection results with concerned parents at a meeting tomorrow.
Ms Cooper was born in Leicester, before moving to Norfolk and later returning to attend Loughborough University where she studied English, before completing her PGCE.
She also completed a Masters degree in continuing professional development and assessment.
While the 44-year-old does know not the exact reason for her successful posting to William Allitt, she has worked in three challenging schools in the past. This will be her first headship.
She said: “We could see there was work to be done at the school but it is also a fantastic place to work. It has a fantastic ethos which I want to build on.
“We are already on track for improved results this year and we will work hard to ensure this upward trend continues in future.
“By working together, we will build on the school’s strengths to raise expectations and achievement across the board.
“Every child deserves to have the best possible start in life and we already have plans in place to raise standards and help students exceed expectations.”
In a letter to parents, Ms Cooper drew on the strengths noted by the inspector which said that the pupils felt safe and valued, the wide range of courses at Key Stage 4 motivates pupils and the Year 7 course (Opening Minds) was taught well and promoted good progress.
However, she admitted that the school had been placed in special measures ‘to address weaknesses in achievement, teaching and leadership and management’.
Ms Cooper said: “We believe we have moved on from the last two years. The children are happy and valued and feel safe and they are achieving well in some subjects.
“We are very pleased that Ofsted acknowledge our Year 7s’ course saying they were progressing well. It is great that they are recognising we are making progress. We are working on continually challenging our pupils.”
County council bosses to keep a close eye
COUNTY council bosses are keeping a close eye on the school and are putting in an action plan to improve standards.
Four Ofsted inspectors visited the school in Newhall, Swadlincote, and found a range of strengths including above average attendance levels, good achievements in the arts, and that pupils feel safe and valued
However they placed the school in special measures to address weaknesses in achievement, teaching and leadership and management.
In their report, the inspectors acknowledge improvements are already being seen at the school.
Staff and governors are working closely with Derbyshire County Council to swiftly address issues highlighted in the report.
Councillor Jim Coyle, the county council’s deputy cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We want to reassure parents that our education advisors have been working closely with the school and have offered practical help and support.
“I’m confident that with the new headteacher now in place the school will improve quickly and staff and students can really begin to look to the future.”