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Working to support two ‘failing’ schools

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: June 07, 2014

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NEWS that Swadlincote’s third high school is the latest to have dropped into ‘special measures’ has come as a blow to the education of children in the area but council bosses are hoping to turn fortunes around.

It was reported this week that William Allitt, in Sunnyside, Newhall, has now been placed in special measures after being declared ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted. It makes it the third school in the area to be classed as failing in four years.

Granville Sports College, in Burton Road, Woodville was the first to be slapped with the title in 2010. However, within two years it had turned itself around but was again asked to improve after being declared ‘satisfactory’ in October 2013.

The Pingle School, in Coronation Street, Swadlincote, was next to face the wrath of Ofsted and was placed in special measures in June 2013 under the headship of Bryan Carr.

It has been making steps to improve with two good monitoring inspections in October 2013 and February 2014, and its acting head teacher Vivien Sharples has now been given the top job.

The local education authority is often drafted in to step up improvements and Derbyshire County Council has been keen to ensure future generations get the best out of their education.

So much so that the council has commissioned a national training organisation between all three schools to help them on their quest.

A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “We are working hard to support all three schools and have already taken firm and positive action to improve the quality of teaching and learning in all classes.

“We are fully committed to ensuring all our pupils get the best education and progress is already being made.

“It is pleasing that Granville Sports College continues to improve since it came out of special measures in 2012.

“We are working closely with a new head teacher at William Allitt School who has experience of working in schools in challenging circumstances and is putting a clear action plan in place.

“Inspectors who have visited Pingle School three times this academic year have spoken positively of the actions taken.

“We have also commissioned a nationally recognised training organisation to deliver professional development to all three schools which will strengthen leadership, teaching and learning.”

Even before William Allitt’s report was revealed, a new head teacher was quickly taken on and the new role was given to Jackie Cooper, who already has experienced in ‘challenging’ schools and now has the unenviable task of turning it into an outstanding educational facility.

Meanwhile, Vivien Sharples was only acting head when Pingle was declared as failing in June 2013 but said she has a strong team of staff who have the vision and drive to take the school to the next stage in its development.

She has been true to her word and has been making good progress through each of its monitoring inspections.

However, the ultimate success story – if it can be called that – comes from Granville. Its head teacher, Sylvia Thomas was brought to the role in September 2009 but didn’t have much time to prevent it from sliding into special measures in June 2010. However, within two years, she and her team have taken it from inadequate to satisfactory.

Each school was questioned over its leadership and management as well as problems over the achievement of pupils’ literacy.

William Allitt was told by Ofsted that its ‘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, the report said 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.

Ultimately, it is a school’s community spirit and strong team effort of talented and enthusiastic teachers which can prove to Ofsted inspectors that their school is one to be proud of.

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