Academy judged Good; predecessor school was Outstanding. Gove praises it as example of what can be achieved.

Janet Downs's picture
“These schools have shown what can be achieved with a change of leadership and the right attitude,” he said, “We need to take schools by the scruff of the neck and get them to improve.”

Michael Gove, Nottingham Post, 15 March 2014

“These schools” were Edgewood Primary School, Hucknall, and Nottingham Academy, an all-through academy set up in 2009 and sponsored by Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust.

But did these schools improve?

Edgewood Primary School, Gove said, had made “great strides” since being placed in special measures on 2011. It’s encouraging that Gove recognises a Satisfactory judgement is an improvement on Inadequate – there’s an unfortunate tendency among some pundits to include schools judged Satisfactory under Ofsted’s old inspection regime as “failing”.

Nottingham Academy replaced the “failing Greenwood Dale School” reported the Nottingham Post. It's unclear whether the paper was summarising Gove or whether the paper got it wrong. Either way, the statement is not true. Greenwood Dale was judged Outstanding in 2009. And Greenwood Dale’s head, Barry Day, had won a string of awards a couple of years earlier.

Outstanding is not “failing”.

Nottingham Academy was an amalgamation of three schools: Greenwood Dale, Elliot Durham School and Jesse Boot Primary. The Academy was judged Good in March 2012. This is not an improvement on the former Outstanding judgement for Greenwood Dale.

In 2009, 50% of the GCSE cohort at Greenwood Dale reached the benchmark 5+ GCSEs (or equivalent) A*-C including Maths and English. In 2013 this had risen to 58% but dropped to 36% when equivalent exams are removed.

But were Nottingham Academy's other two predecessor schools failing? The answer is no.

Elliott Durham was judged Satisfactory in 2007.

Gove recognises Satisfactory can indicate “great strides” forward. And Satisfactory is not “failing”.

Jesse Boot Primary was Good with Outstanding features in 2008.

Good with Outstanding features is not “failing”.

And falling from Outstanding to Good is not an achievement.

It’s not the first time Gove has got in a muddle with Ofsted judgements. In July he defined Satisfactory as being in special measures when praising Debbie Clinton, the head of Nunthorpe School, for turning the school from (allegedly) inadequate to outstanding in a couple of years. And he said Cuckoo Hall primary school, Enfield, was in special measures when Patricia Sowter became head. But the Ofsted report before her arrival had described Cuckoo Hall as a “very effective” school. It had emerged from special measures in 1999 after “very substantial improvement”.

A very effective school is not in special measures.

Note: Ofsted reports for Edgewood and Nottingham Academy can be downloaded from Ofsted’s website here. Ofsted reports for Greenwood Dale, Jesse Boot and Elliott Durham aren't on the Ofsted website. The 2012 report for Nottingham Academy says Elliott Durham was judged Satisfactory in 2007 and Greenwood Dale was judged Outstanding in 2009. A case study from the Department for Children, Schools and Families says Jesse Boot was Good with outstanding features in 2008.
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Alistair Wilson's picture
Tue, 01/04/2014 - 14:27

Janet - You might find this useful - if you haven't already seen it. Contains Greenwood Dale.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 01/04/2014 - 15:16

Alistair - thanks. No, I hadn't seen the report. When I looked for the Ofsted reports for Nottingham Academy's predecessor schools, I couldn't find them.

We keep being told that Labour sponsored academies were previously under-performing schools in disadvantaged areas. Greenwood Dale was in a disadvantaged area, yes, but according to Ofsted it was not a poor school. Neither did it have poor results (albeit they included a large number of equivalents).

Beth J's picture
Tue, 01/04/2014 - 21:56

Janet, the Ofsted reports of the predecessor schools are archived here:

However, don't forget the Ofsted framework has changed significantly since then, so you're not necessarily comparing like with like.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 02/04/2014 - 09:45

Beth - thanks for that. You're right the Ofsted framework's changed and that does make comparison difficult especially when some pundits apply the new descriptors retrospectively (eg when saying schools judged Satisfactory on the old criteria are now "Requires Improvement" and therefore "failing").

That said, there's no excuse for saying schools were in special measures (Nunthorpe, Cuckoo Hall) at a time when they weren't; or an outstanding school (Greenwood Dale) was "failing" before it became an academy.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 06/04/2014 - 09:15

It appears Gove's praised another academy for its "progress" since converting. Gove described Limehurst Academy, Loughborough, as "Outstanding". But Ofsted didn't go quite that far when it visited last year - it judged the school to be Good. The predecessor school, Limehurst High School, however, had been judged Outstanding in 2010 before conversion.

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