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Grantham school branded ‘inadequate’

Susan Dench
Susan Dench

A Grantham school has been braded ‘inadequate’ by school inspectors Ofsted.

But its executive headteacher Susan Dench has been singled out for praise, saying how she “helped rescue the school from a position of near chaos.”

The West Grantham Academy St Hugh’s is one of two Grantham schools run by the West Grantham Academies Trust. It’s other school, St John’s, was placed in special measures by Ofsted early last year, after an across-the-board ‘inadequate’ rating. Ofsted inspectors this week also issued a report on the progress it has made since then.

Inspectors, who visited St Hugh’s nearly three months ago, rated the school as ‘inadequate’ for its personal development, behaviour and welfare, plus outcomes for children.

The effectiveness of its leadership and management, plus the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, was rated as ‘requires improvement.’

The overall effectiveness rating of ‘inadequate’ contrasts with the ‘good’ rating the school received in 2013.

Ofsted said: “Time and energy have been taken to rectify the inadequate behaviours of some of the pupils in order that the majority are able to learn. These improvements have yet to impact on the outcomes of pupils.

“Too many pupils fail to achieve as they should,” said the report and “the proportion of pupils excluded from school, though decreasing, is much higher than national figures and still remains too high.”

Staff were also criticised. Ofsted said: “The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is inconsistent across and within subject areas. It is improving.

“The whole-school marking and assessment is not followed consistently well. Some pupils do not receive the feedback that they need from their teachers.”

However, Ofsted noted many teachers were new, but have shown “great potential,” though this has yet to affect pupils’ outcomes.

Strengths were also noted in school leaders, including governors, knowing the school’s weaknesses and showing great dedication. They also took an extremely positive view to pupil’s personal safety and welfare.

Executive headteacher Susan Dench said the school was ‘disappointed’ with the ‘inadequate’ rating, adding it was a word the academy would not use.

Mrs Dench, who joined the school in 2015, cited positive aspects of the report and noted improvements underway.

She said: “Turning a school around takes time.”

Mrs Dench also explained some pupils did not confirm to new systems, leading to their exclusion, but figures were improving. She also cited improvements in teaching, learning and assessments in science, English and maths, saying one pupil had praised teachers as “very supportive and inspiring.”

She also praised the support of staff and parents, and described the students as ‘fabulous.’ If anyone had any concerns about the school, they were welcome to visit.

Mrs Cherry Edwards OBE, Chair of the Board of Directors commented, “In the time I have had the privilege to be associated with St Hugh’s as a Director and Chair of the Board, I have seen our Executive Headteacher, Mrs Dench, and leaders of the academy work tirelessly and effectively with the support of the whole school team, including pupils, parents, carers and families to make improvements in the quality of the education that we provide.”

“The report clearly states that ‘Leaders, including governors have an accurate view of the strengths and the weaknesses of the school. They have shown great dedication. They have found many creative approaches that are beginning to improve the school.’

“We will continue to work with our whole school community as well as the Diocese, Local Authority and the Regional Schools Commissioner to ensure that the improvements already made will be consolidated and accelerated in order that the education that we provide reaches a good and better standard for all our pupils.’


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