REVEALED: Mansfield and Ashfield failing schools - and how they’re going to be turned around

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Actions have been taken by Nottinghamshire County Council to support schools identified as requiring improvement in recent Ofsted inspections.

Inspections carried out in the spring term of 2018 saw 45 schools rated as being good.

A total 39 of these schools retained their previous good judgement, one was good and improving and three were good but declining.

St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, Mansfield, improved from requiring improvement to good, but Sherwood Junior School, in Warsop, Brierley Forest Primary School, and Healdswood Infant School, both in Sutton, all went from good to requiring improvement.

Python Hill Primary School in Rainworth, Mansfield’s Oak Tree Primary School and Kirkby College were all downgraded from good to inadequate.

Python Hill was judged as having serious weaknesses, while Oak Tree and Kirkby were both judged to require special measures.

A report to Nottinghamshire County Council’s children and young people’s committee, which meets on Monday, May 21, shows the reasons the schools were placed in requiring improvement and the actions taken by the local authority to support these schools.

The committee is recommended to track closely the progress of the schools to becoming a good school.

Brierley Forest Primary and Nursery School, Westbourne View, Sutton – requiring improvement

Areas for improvement – Leaders’ work to improve the curriculum is not yet complete. Some aspects, such as pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, require further development. The same is true of communication with parents and carers. Not enough pupils, particularly those of middle ability, make the accelerated progress necessary for them to attain at the highest standard in reading, writing and mathematics. Pupils’ progress in subjects other than reading, writing and mathematics is inconsistent. Too often, all pupils do the same.

Actions by the local authority – Collaboration had been in place to broker an executive headteacher. EHT has now been appointed as substantive headteacher.

What the school says:

Diane Ward, executive headteacher, said: “As the new leadership team, we are delighted the latest Ofsted report recognises and supports the recent developments and positive changes we have made in school and praises the level of care we offer our children.

“We are particularly pleased to be considered a school with ‘a well-established culture of safeguarding’ where ‘pupils feel and are kept safe by well-trained and knowledgeable staff’.

 “Although the school is currently judged to require improvement in this latest Ofsted inspection, we are encouraged that inspectors have rated the school’s leadership and management as ‘good’ and importantly recognised we have started to reverse the decline in pupils’ attainment and that children in the early years foundation stage are now making rapid progress.

“The report is clear about the areas where we need to continue to focus and we are already prioritising these in our school development plan.

“We will be keeping parents up to date with the progress we are making and will also be holding regular ‘learning cafés’ so we can share details of their child’s learning with parents.

“We are confident everyone at Brierley Forest is working together effectively so we can provide the best possible education to the children and that we will further improve our grading at our next inspection.

“I must also praise our children who were brilliant at sharing their work and school experiences with the inspectors and rightly deserve the recognition they have received.”

Kirkby College, Tennyson Street, Kirkby – inadequate

Areas for improvement – Relationships between leaders in the school and those who are responsible for governance have completely broken down. Leadership is dysfunctional. Leaders do not understand the extent of the considerable weaknesses in the school. They are unable to demonstrate the capacity to bring about the urgently needed improvements. Safeguarding is ineffective. Roles and responsibilities are unclear. Systems to protect pupils are not robust. Attendance is low and declining.

Actions by the local authority – The council has agreed to carry out a safeguarding review as requested by Ofsted and to seek further information from the regional schools co-ordinator concerning actions and interventions to accelerate improvement and outcomes for pupils.

What the school says:

A college spokeswoman said the school was “deeply saddened at the inspectors’ verdict”.

She said: “The welfare and education of all the students in our care is our highest priority and we are already working to address the areas of concern outlined by the inspectors.

“We are determined to move forward quickly to ensure we offer the best possible education to our students.

“Given our dedicated and skilled staff and our impressive students, we were deeply saddened at the inspectors’ verdict, though they did highlight some strengths – there are areas of stronger teaching which lead to students making faster progress.

“Students enjoy these lessons. Some support staff work tirelessly to address the issue of students’ attendance and to check on their wellbeing. Many students are polite and self-motivated. They work hard and are keen to succeed.

“Parents/carers and other visitors to the school have been invariably positive regarding the calm, orderly and business-like atmosphere and polite and welcoming students.

“It is, however, clear higher expectations and greater challenge are needed in order for all students to secure the outcomes they deserve. The report is a clear mandate for change and as part of this school leaders will be pursuing support from a successful multi-academy trust.”

Healdswood Infant and Nursery School, Barker Avenue, Sutton – requiring improvement

Areas for improvement – Pupils’ progress across Key Stage 1 has not been quick enough. The proportions of pupils who have left the school for Key Stage 2 with the standards expected of them have been below the national average. Last year, attainment was in the lowest 10 per cent of all schools nationally. Too many pupils are absent too often. The level of persistent absence is now falling, but remains above the national average.

Actions by the local authority – Collaboration established with another school and executive headteacher brokered to support school.

What the school says:

Jayne Renshaw, head of school, said: “The school is pleased with the recent Ofsted report, it is an accurate reflection and shows the school is travelling in the right direction.

“The school has a new leadership structure which has made a difference to the rates of progress since September and is continuing to make a significant impact.

“The children’s response to the inspection was brilliant, behaviour was good and the parents supportive. The school will continue to work hard in areas identified for improvement.”

Oak Tree Primary School & Nursery, Jubilee Way North, Oak Tree, Mansfield – inadequate

Areas for improvement – The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is inadequate. Leaders do not make proper checks on the quality of teaching provided for considerable numbers of pupils by support staff, to ensure it is of good quality. Leaders and governors have not ensured the school’s website includes all the information needed. This was identified by inspectors as an area for improvement at the last inspection.

Actions by the local authority – Area lead adviser also supporting brokerage of school support.  Partnership has been brokered with a local primary school and the school is also part of a collaboration of local schools.

What the school says:

Mark Thrower, headteacher, said he was pleased that the report acknowledged the school’s strengths in the report specifically the “strong culture of nurture”.

He said: “We are also delighted the school’s early years’ provision as well as personal development, behaviour and safety across all areas in school were ranked as good.

“The staff and governors are disappointed with this judgement, but with the recent support mechanisms put into place we are all determined and committed to addressing the issues raised by Ofsted in order to ensure the children at Oak Tree Primary receive a more challenging and rewarding education”.

Dave French, chairman of governors, said: “The governors fully support Mr Thrower and the staff in their work. The work undertaken in the past few weeks and also since the inspection, is already having a positive impact, and we are confident Oak Tree will very quickly make improvements in the very near future”.

Python Hill Primary School, Kirklington Road, Rainworth – inadequate

Areas for improvement – Since the previous inspection, shortcomings in leadership, teaching and assessment have led to a significant decline in standards. Too few parents and carers would recommend the school or are fully supportive of its work. There are weaknesses in the curriculum for reading, writing and mathematics. These weaknesses have led to too many pupils making insufficient progress and showing too little interest in these subjects. In Years 1 to 4, some pupils demonstrate poor attitudes to learning. This disrupts the learning of other pupils in the class. Teachers do not consistently require pupils to do their best or work hard enough. Some teachers do not set high enough expectations of pupils’ behaviour.

Actions by the local authority – Partnership plan in place with an academy trust. Previous support brokered from another primary school. Additional governor from council appointed.

What the school says:

Jo Knapp, headteacher, said: “Staff and governors are fully committed to putting in place the recommendations Ofsted has made. Senior staff here and the governing body have a clear and accurate view of where improvements are needed and Ofsted recognised that.

“The report recognises some particularly good work has taken place across the last 12 months. Inspectors were impressed by our new Talk for Writing approach which has helped older children to improve their writing skills.

“They also commented on how hardworking and polite the children were during their visit and the children should be rightly proud of this recognition.

“I have every confidence in my staff and leadership team to bring about the changes needed and that everyone associated with the school will work tirelessly to provide a learning environment where children can achieve their potential.”

Sherwood Junior School, Sherwood Street, Warsop – requiring improvement

Areas for improvement – The pupils do not make enough progress in reading. The teaching of reading does not enable enough of the pupils to develop the full range of skills needed to reach the expected standard, particularly the more-complex aspects of reading. The governing body does not hold the senior leaders accountable rigorously for the academic achievement of the pupils.

Actions by the local authority – School in collaboration with another junior school. Executive headteacher in place. New head of school in post from September 2017.

What the school says:

Helen Atkins, headteacher, said: “We are pleased with the accuracy of Ofsted’s findings, and are pleased the inspectors have noted our strengths – the ethos of the school, how well the children are cared for, the supportive governing body and the positive impact of changes since Sherwood Junior joined a collaboration with Leas Park Junior School in Mansfield Woodhouse.

“Sherwood Junior has had a difficult couple of years since the last inspection, but is now rapidly moving back in the right direction.

“We now have a fantastic staff and incredibly supportive parents, both of whom are committed to ensuring the children at Sherwood have the best education possible. We recognise there is still work to be done and have already started to plan and refine our work in order to secure these improvements.”