Five Islands School ‘Requires Improvement’ Says Ofsted
Ofsted has given Scilly’s Five Islands school its lowest assessment grading since the school was in special measures several years ago.
It has slipped from level 2, or ‘good’ to level 3, ‘requires improvement.’
Ofsted says parents seem happy with the standard of education and all pupils, including those with special educational needs, achieve results above the national average. Teaching staff impressed Ofsted, who said most teachers and assistants were good and some were outstanding, and they had high expectations of the pupils.
Pupils are set interesting work within an outstanding curriculum and their behaviour is outstanding, too. Students are motivated, and help each other, while bullying is not an issue and is dealt with effectively.
But the inspectors believe that the staffing changes surrounding the suspension and resignation of head teacher Bryce Wilby last May has unsettled the school and affected the school improvement rate.
The school is, “behind the game in some important respects,” says the Ofsted report.
They found more stability since the earlier autumn, visit. Some staff were positive about the acting head’s changes and morale has improved.
But Ofsted feels there isn’t enough emphasis on improving pupil performance, and Leadership and Management scored a 3 grade, requiring improvement.
Governors’ chairman Ben Julian says the report is fair and reflects their internal self-evaluation.
But Ben rejects suggestions that the current school leadership and management is not meeting Ofsted requirements. He says the earlier draft Ofsted report, produced immediately after the first visit and which was not released, found the leadership of the acting head teacher to be “outstanding” and governance to be “good and improving”.
He says Ofsted downgraded that to grade 3 following a request from the Department for Education to consider the entire period from the last inspection in 2010 to this summer.
Ofsted’s unexpected revisit just weeks after the initial inspection followed an investigation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, where they spoke in detail to staff and governors.
Ben argues that an Ofsted is supposed to consider the whole period since the previous inspection, not just a two-day snapshot.
Ofsted says the governing body could do better and governors need to link teachers’ pay to their performance.
The report says staff are overstretched and no one had the brief of overseeing teaching and learning for pupils in years 3 to 6. Ofsted wants that situation improved, along with teaching and learning for years 3 and 4 at St Mary’s.
Ben says the new head teacher will address this area as a matter of priority when he or she starts. Until then, the school leadership will be put into interim measures to support Key Stage 2 teaching.
Inspectors say the Council is now providing good support after what Ofsted calls “a hesitant start” and they welcomed the Town Hall’s offer to help in managing school finances.
But Ofsted want an external review of governance to assess how areas of leadership and management may be improved.
They feel that the governing body has not had time to develop the skills to have a clear impact on raising standards.
Ben points out that governors are volunteers and do their best to hold a school to account. The report recognises that they have already done much good work, he says.
School governors are there to support a head and ultimately hold them to account and Ben says they did that robustly last May.
Interviews for a new head teacher will take place next month and Ben doesn’t feel the reduced Ofsted grade will impact on recruitment. He says it can be tough to go into a good or outstanding school, as it can be a hard act to follow and feels the leadership and management issues outlined in the report are straightforward to put right.
Ofsted says the school will receive another full inspection within two years to assess whether required progress has been made.