Second Lincs grammar school requires improvement. Its academy trust, DRET, faces Ofsted criticism

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Skegness Grammar School was judged to require improvement after inspectors visited the school during focussed inspections of academies in the David Ross Education Trust (DRET) during September and October.

This is the second Lincolnshire grammar school to require improvement after Boston Grammar School was judged less than good in March 2016.  A monitoring inspection in October 2016 found leaders and governors at Boston Grammar were taking effective action to address weaknesses.

Although the majority of grammars are judged good or better, being a selective school is no guarantee of education quality.  Poole Grammar School was judged to require improvement at the end of 2015.  Monitoring in July 2016 found effective action was being taken to tackle identified weaknesses.   Two grammars have been judged inadequate in the past: Stretford Grammar (2009) and Chatham Grammar for Boys (now Holcombe Grammar) in 2013.  Both have since been upgraded to good.

Many grammars haven’t been inspected for years.  This is despite many converting to academy status and technically being ‘new’ schools

Outstanding judgements of LA-maintained schools, whether selective or not, are brought forward and included in data about outstanding academies.  This, as noted before, inflates the number of top grade academies.  

Skegness Grammar School was downgraded from good in September.  Inspectors found previous high standards had not been maintained, teaching quality was ‘not good enough across the school’ and the most able pupils didn’t progress as well as they should. 

Ofsted criticised DRET for being ‘too slow’ to challenge school leaders about the quality of education provided by Skegness Grammar.  Inspectors recognised DRET was now providing support but noted this was ‘very recent’.

The school’s boarding provision was inspected separately in June 2017.  This was also downgraded from good to requires improvement.  The effectiveness of the boarding school’s leaders and managers was judged inadequate.

Following the focussed inspections of DRET academies, the Trust has been told to improve pupil progress in its academies.   Ofsted’s report criticising DRET is downplayed on the Trust’s website.  

At the time of writing, Skegness Grammar’s latest Ofsted report isn’t on the school’s website.  The page inviting pupils to study at Skegness Grammar says:

‘As Ofsted stated, “teachers have strong subject knowledge and this promotes students’ enjoyment and confidence.”’

But the quote is from the 2011 Ofsted report for Skegness Grammar.  There have been two inspections since then.

The latest inspection report acknowledges that teachers have strong subject knowledge but said teachers ‘do not use this well enough to ensure that pupils, particularly the most able, make consistently strong progress.’   

Perhaps DRET should add another recommendation to Ofsted’s list: ensure that DRET academies do not give misleading information to parents.   That would be a start.

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