Skegness Academy: An Unmitigated Success?

Sarah Dobbs's picture
 2
This week, the Skegness Academy received an outstanding Ofsted report. Everyone involved at the school should be congratulated - whether you are pro or anti-academy, success is success.

However, a quick scratch underneath the surface reveals few questions that need to be answered before the pro-academy brigade get too carried away with themselves.

Let us look at the previous Ofsted report from St Clements High School, the previous incarnation of the Academy. The last Ofsted from March 2010 states

"St Clement's College is a rapidly improving school that has established notable strengths in its provision, particularly in the care and support that it provides for students and the way that it has tailored the curriculum to meet their needs and aspirations. Since the last inspection the headteacher has skilfully guided the college's transformation by securing a sharp and sustained improvement in key outcomes. Although attainment remains below the national figures, results at GCSE have improved significantly: the proportion of students gaining at least five good GCSEs, including English and mathematics, increased fivefold between 2007 and 2009 and the college is firmly on course to achieve above the national benchmark figure of 30% in 2010.

The college's ethos is securely based on a 'can do' culture where high aspirations are encouraged and achievement is openly celebrated. The positive attitudes of the large majority of students are reflected in their good attendance, good behaviour and their enjoyment of school."

So, the road to improvement was firmly laid within the bounds of the local authority. We will never know how it could have continued to improve within the local authority structures that are now being dismantled around our ears.

The other section of the report worth highlighting is the following

"The proportion of students eligible for free school meals is well above average, and the proportion with special educational needs and/or disabilities is almost twice the national figure."

The brand new report reads

"A slightly higher than average proportion of students have special educational needs and/or disabilities. The proportion of students known to be eligible for free school meals is higher than average"

If someone can explain how in less then 18 calendar months how a school can go from having an SEN rate twice the national figure to one only slightly higher than average I would really like to know. If we are measuring and judging outstanding success, I feel that it is crucial that what we are celebrating is also outstanding in terms of equity and fairness.

Please contact me on srdodds@hotmail.co.uk if you have the answers, or leave your comments here.
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Comments

Billy no Mates's picture
Fri, 21/10/2011 - 14:52

The ethos of LCC and its selective schools skews SEN intake. Secondary modern converter academies take a larger percentage of pupils with SEN and disabilities, “grammar school rejects”. Funding isn't ring-fenced for the High Needs SEN block in the LA’s DSG so it's a case of robbing special needs Peter to pay selective Paul.

One way of avoiding the Equality Act radar is to downgrade special needs. Even if non-selective schools have honourable intentions they really don't have any other alternative than to downgrade children’s difficulties.

How will non-selective academies raise floor targets amongst all this competition? Zero tolerance on bad behaviour as opposed to pastoral care and more focus on GCSEs than social well being, that’s how.

It was a really positive report although I understand the need as you say to not get "too carried away". Lots of questions to be answered seeing as it was such a sharp turnaround over the course of 18 months.

As someone who lives in the area and with very young children yet to attend school I'm constantly keeping tabs on the current education establishment for when the time eventually comes.

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