School Needs To Use ‘Healthy’ Budget To Improve Standards Says Governor

school summer 1The Council’s recently appointed local authority governor says the Five Islands School should, “not sit there with a healthy budget and a poor Ofsted score.”

Phil Rowe was speaking at the recent Children’s Committee meeting, where members discussed how standards were being improved for certain age groups at the school.

The Council’s senior officer for children, Keith Grossett, said outcomes were ‘outstanding’ at KS4, the point at which children take their GCSE’s, but were ‘poor’ at KS2.

Mr Grossett said the school had “a fairly tight timeline” to improve this situation, with Ofsted inspectors due “within the next couple of terms.”

The Council has employed a retired school inspector to analyse teaching and learning at KS2 and to develop an action plan with senior leaders.

And Keith said the school was “getting to grips” with their data, so they could recognise pupils who aren’t making the expected progress.

Mr Rowe said he made “no apology” for currently “interfering a lot in the school.”

He said the school needs to “ruthlessly prioritise its improvement work,” but added that he hadn’t “been absolutely reassured on that front.”

And he said governors had made it very clear to the head teacher, Linda Todd, that her focus is on improving standards and she, “should not be diverted in her attentions towards the status of the school.”

A switch to academy status was one of the recommendations made in 2013 by the then Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, following an investigation into governance issues at the Five Islands School.

But Mr Rowe also cautioned that teacher morale was important and applauded the school for their excellent KS4 results, which were in the top percentile nationally.

The Council’s senior community services officer Aisling Hick echoed that, saying members needed “a sense of perspective” and shouldn’t get “too dramatic” over the results.

Aisling questioned whether any other school would have had the same level of scrutiny from their local authority.

Mr Rowe said the school was currently underspent on its budget and that they had a clear decision to make.

“They could find themselves with a very healthy budget and a low Ofsted score at the next visit, or they could use some of the funding to actually make sure that this school is good, or indeed outstanding,” he told members.

DfE data shows that the total spend per pupil at the Five Islands School last year was £9,761, against a national average of £5,944.

“This school needs to improve and they should use every strategy, including finance, to make that happen,” said Mr Rowe.

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