“The school is Improving”
Pleasingly the report highlighted the following as key strengths of the school:
“The new headteacher has the full support of staff in his efforts to strengthen the work of the school. Morale is high and the school is improving.”
“Pupils say that they are safe in school. There are high-quality safeguarding procedures in place to protect pupils, especially the most vulnerable.”
“There is a climate of respect and tolerance throughout the school. Relationships between pupils and adults are good.”
“Pupils enjoy the many opportunities to take on roles of responsibility and contribute to the school.”
“Governors and the new headteacher are ambitious for the pupils, and have a clear understanding of the school’s strengths and how to tackle its weaknesses.”
We are, however, fully aware there is much more to do to ensure all students leave the school with the best possible outcomes and skills to enable them to succeed beyond their time in school. We have held a series of parents forums to discuss these issues.
The biggest concern raised by parents was the quality of teaching (as described in the Ofsted report). The report explains that whilst this is improving, it is not yet ‘good’ and, the report identified that key groups of students were not supported well enough by teaching (differentiation/challenge) and that teachers were not thoroughly checking students understanding (assessment for learning) so they could make better progress.
We have discussed what strategies we were using to deal with these two issues. Paramount to both issues is our development of vertical tutor groups that are smaller groups than last year. The aim of this is to provide better support to each individual child. We are then taking a similar approach to tackling the two key areas. Each half term we are going (and have been doing since September), as a school leadership team, to look at the quality of teaching and learning on three occasions. Each time our focus will be on either; groups of children and how the teacher supports and challenges them (differentiation/ challenge), or how well the teacher checks the understanding of students and then changing their teaching to meet the needs of each student (assessment for learning) or on both of these issues.
We will then provide support for any teachers who are not meeting our expectations. Parents were keen to stress that although they understood that the job of teaching is not, at times, easy, they wanted me to reassure them that we were doing all we could to improve quality. It is early days in terms of impact however, it is clear that teachers and students are rising to the new challenges we are setting as a school.