Good news: praise for the schools ignored by the DfE – the ones which were the same or better than the “brilliant example” given national publicity.

Janet Downs's picture
 4
What happened on 9 June 2014? That was the day Ofsted published the much-leaked “Trojan Horse” reports.

But other reports were also published on 9 June and most did not receive national publicity.

But one did. The Great Yarmouth Primary Academy (GYPA), which was supposedly turned round from Inadequate to Good in just two years, was praised in the Mail. The Department for Education (DfE) and schools minister Liz Truss tweeted the result as a “brilliant example”.

But the turnaround had begun in 2011 and the school was judged Satisfactory by Ofsted just a few weeks after the present head, Bill Holledge, took over. Inspectors said the removal from Special Measures was because of the “extraordinary work” done by the previous County headteacher, Mrs Beverley Hall (see here).

Nevertheless, Ofsted has now judged GYPA to be one grade up from Satisfactory. And the Mail said it was because GYPA had introduced a compulsory longer day for older pupils.

But at least 18 other primary schools previously judged Satisfactory/Requires Improvement or worse were judged Good or Better in reports published on 9 June.

 

The three most-improved were:

Bourne Westfield Primary Academy, Lincolnshire, previously Requires Improvement. It is now Outstanding in all four categories. Despite being a converter academy, the school uses the expertise of the local authority (LA) to ensure the school’s own assessment is in line with national standards. It buys in LA services including training which is “highly valued” by the staff. The academy works with other schools to share expertise.

St Clement’s CofE Academy, Birmingham, previously Inadequate, is now Good. It works closely with its sponsor DBET which is “passionate” about the school.

White Hall Academy (was Coppins Green Primary), Essex. The previous school was judged Inadequate. Now it is Good. The academy sponsor, Lyons Hall Primary School, provides strong support. The LA provided good assistance to the academy in its early days and continues to supply light touch oversight and encouragement.

These 15 schools rose from Satisfactory/Requires Improvement to Good:

Admirals Academy (was Admirals Junior School) Norfolk
Broomgrove Junior School, Colchester
Coverdale CofE, Shropshire
Edgebury Primary School, Bromley
Fairfield Community Primary School, Lancashire
Hollymount School, Raynes Park, London
Kingsway Primary School, Leicester
Mason Moor Primary School, Southampton
Mayport CofE Junior, Cumbria
Riverside Academy (was Newbold Riverside Primary), Warwickshire
St George’s Lower School , Bedfordshire
St John Fisher, a Catholic Voluntary Academy, Derbyshire
St Joseph’s Catholic and CofE (VA), Staveley
Victoria Lane Academy (was Coundon Primary), County Durham
Winyates Primary School, Peterborough.

Not one of these schools has introduced a mandatory longer day for any pupils. But a common thread, apart from the quality of teaching, was the support given by academy sponsors or local authorities, sometimes both.

 

All 18 are “brilliant examples”. They equally deserve praise. Unfortunately, the DfE’s tendency to promote only its favoured schools detracts from the good work being done in thousands of other schools.

NOTE: Apologies if I’ve missed other schools whose reports appeared on 9 June which improved from Requires Improvement/Satisfactory or worse to Good or Better. If omitted schools let me know, I’ll add them to the roll of honour.

All Ofsted primary school reports published on 9 June 2014 are available here.
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Comments

Brian's picture
Sat, 21/06/2014 - 20:33

At least the DfE has a solution to failing schools, which is better than any LA has. This is a paragraph from a response to an FoI I submitted querying a DfE statement that academies and free schools are monitored more closely than LA schools.

'Where failure has been identified we have acted swiftly; we are not prepared to allow a school to fail its children, its parents and its community. There are currently 40 local authority schools that have been in special measures for 18 months or longer whereas the department took quick and decisive action to address issues at Al Madinah Free School and moved to close Discovery New School just 7 months after its inadequate Ofsted rating.

So the DfE is quick to sort out a failing school ... by closing it. If only LA's would act so decisively the problem of failing schools could be solved overnight.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 22/06/2014 - 07:06

Brian - the "solution" includes forcing schools to become sponsored academies. But this is not a golden bullet. 15 academy chains are currently "halted" from taking on more schools. One of them, E-Act, is having schools taken away. Another, Prospects, has decided to dump its academies.

There are about 150 LAs and you are damning all of them because 40 schools, spread among 150 LAs, (that's about 0.3 of a school in each LA) have been in special measures for 18 months or longer.

It is naive to say that immediately closing a "failing" school would solve the problem overnight. It wouldn't. Children would need to find places elsewhere or the school would be forced to accept a sponsor (which, as I've said, doesn't necessarily lead to success).

Discovery New School should never have been allowed to open. It claimed it was a Montessori school, but the Montessori School Organisation warned the DfE in 2010 before Discovery opened that it was likely to fail. But the DfE allowed it to open regardless. It had no choice but to close it quickly given the damning Ofsted and its own complicity in allowing it to open in the first place.

Similarly questions remain over whether Al-Madinah should ever have been given the go-ahead as I explained here.


Brian's picture
Sun, 22/06/2014 - 08:12

Morning Janet,

Of course I agree entirely with your points about LAs and DfE solutions. In suggesting that the DfE had found a solution through closing schools (i.e. Discovery) and LAs aren't brave enough to take that action I was attempting to be sarcastic ... and we all know what Wilde said about that!

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 22/06/2014 - 08:48

Apologies, Brian. I wish there was an emoticon (or something) which would indicate sarcasm or irony in comments.

As it was, I took your comment at face value and jumped in with both feet.

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