The scale of the challenge a new headteacher at a Preston Academy faces has been laid bare.Advertisement
Ofsted have downgraded Fulwood Academy in Black Bull Lane to being inadequate in every area of teaching and placed it back into ‘special measures’.
The Fulwood school was rated as requires improvement in an inspection in 2016 but inspectors returned in February this year and delivered a damning verdict on the school – in the report due to be published on Monday (29 April).
New headteacher Philip Grant was brought in just days before the inspection took place on 26 and 27 February following the departure of former head Stephen Henry.
Ofsted inspectors reported that bullying is rife in the school, teachers have low expectations of pupils potential and too many disadvantaged pupils are being given fixed-term exclusions.
The Charles Dunstone Charitable Trust, which sponsors the Academy which came into being in September 2009 replacing Fulwood High School, has brought in a new leadership team after the previous regime were heavily criticised by Ofsted.
Lead Inspector Anne Seneviratne writes in her report of the leadership team: “Leaders have not created a culture in which pupils feel safe or are safe.
“Leaders are not taking effective action to improve the attendance of pupils, particularly those who are disadvantaged.”
And she goes on to say she has doubts about how the Academy can be turned round despite bringing in a new structure, writing: “The proposed new leadership structure does not reflect the needs of the school.”
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A section about the behaviour observed in the school displays some worrying findings by Ofsted inspectors.
They write: “Poor behaviour is prevalent in most classrooms and in some it is so bad tha it prevents learning taking place altogether.
“During the inspection, pupils were vocal in their frustration about this.
“It is not surprising and very sad that none of the pupils who spoke with inspectors would recommend their school to others.
“The behaviour of many pupils outside the classroom is also unacceptable.
“There is much unruly behaviour both outside and inside, including between lessons.
“Pupils report that various objects are regularly thrown as missiles.
“Indeed, one inspector was caught in the crossfire of a water bottle being thrown by pupils.
“There is a high staff presence during these times, but this has little impact on regulating pupils’ behaviour. Inspectors witnessed many examples of pupils blatantly ignoring staff’s requests to modify their behaviour.”
In an extensive section about the senior leadership team at the school, Ofsted inspectors say the decline in the education at the school means the standard of educaton is no longer acceptable.
There is praise for the efforts of the acting principal who led the school from September 2018 to February 2019 – but Ofsted said “his genuine commitment to the task and desire to do his best for the pupils raised the morale of the school community. However, the weaknesses in all areas of the school by this time required far more than these qualities to bring about the much-needed improvements.”
Inspectors said ‘too many external people giving piecemeal advice’ had led to a confused vision for the school.
And draft proposals for the Academy, put forward by new head Mr Grant, were shared with inspectors but have been branded as ‘not fit for purpose’. They go on to say the plans address the financial issues the school faces, but not does not address the urgent educational needs of the school.
There is also direct criticism of billionaire backer Sir Charles Dunstone. The Carphone Warehouse Founder’s charity trust bankrolls the school and Ofsted write ‘The sponsor’s vision for the future curriculum is to focus on computing and digital technology. He has pledged a substantial amount of capital investment in the school to support this. At the time of the inspection, leaders’ thinking on how this curriculum intent would be implemented remains vague. It is concerning that half-way through the current academic year, leaders are so uncertain about what the curriculum for all pupils will look like from September 2019.”
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The report goes on to rate the quality of teaching and learning as ‘inadequate’.
Inspectors state pupils do not benefit from routinely good teaching. A picture of ‘chaotic and disorderly classrooms’ is painted.
There is praise for a ‘small amount of good practice’ in the school, with teachers of modern foreign languages singled out for their work and for challenging pupils appropriately.
Elsewhere there is sweeping criticism of teachers who cannot control classrooms, do not challenge pupils and let pupils continue to make the same mistakes. The school is also criticised for the number of temporary teachers it uses.
All of this, inspectors say, has led to an inadequate rating in the outcomes for pupils section.
A ‘significant deterioration’ in the progress rate of pupils in terms of their results has been identified and there is a ‘stark comparison’ in how pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are performing in comparison with other pupils across the country in the same position.
Inspectors also highlight how more able pupils are being allowed to drift, as they are not challenged during their time at the school.
The school is also criticised for its lack of provision for pupils with special educational needs.
Ofsted has listed a 26-point plan for improvements it wants to see made by the school following its inspection.
Placing the Academy into special measures means Ofsted will monitor the school to check its progress and it faces a full inspection within the next 30 months of the February 2019 inspection.
In response to the Ofsted report, the chair of governors Joan Dean and the new headteacher Philip Grant have released how they plan to tackle the issues while sponsor Sir Charles Dunstone has given his public backing to the new head and the governers.
The 54-year-old is a self-made billionaire.
He began selling mobile phones in 1989 and went on to found Carphone Warehouse.
He is executive chairman of the Talk Talk Group, as well as holding positions on HBOS, the Daily Mail, Independent Media and is a council member of The Prince’s Trust.
His charitable trust is shown as having income of £1.1million and spending £1.7million in its latest accounts in 2018.
You can read the full Ofsted report here.
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