Northampton primary school stays in special measures despite new curriculum and principal

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A Northampton primary school has been told it will have to stay in special measures after an Ofsted inspection revealed standards were still “significantly below the national average.”

Blackthorn Primary School was placed into special measures in September 2014 after the watchdog found teaching “dull” and pupils’ standards “exceptionally low.”

Since then the school, which is operated by The Education Fellowship, was made subject to period monitoring inspections from Ofsted in a bid to drive up standards.

However while its latest report, compiled after an inspection in December, praised the work of its new principal Michelle Ginn, it has decided to keep the special measures monitoring in place.

The report reads: “There was a slight improvement in writing. Nevertheless, standards of attainment in each subject are significantly below national averages.

“Similarly, standards at the end of Key Stage 2 also declined in reading, writing and mathematics from the previous year.”

The report goes on to say that although standards in grammar, punctuation and spelling rose, pupils in year six still left the academy with “low levels of attainment and were not adequately prepared for the next stage of their education.”

The Education Trust claims difficulties in the “recruitment and retention of staff,” have been a “barrier to securing improvement at the required rate.”

The Ofsted report shows that, while four new teachers joined the academy school in September, two of those have since left.

However the watchdog says the new principal Michelle Ginn has “quickly identified what needs to be done to bring about the rapid improvement that is required”, has “clear plans for improvement” and has “worked tirelessly at putting in place systems to secure improvements.”

The Education Fellowship says Blackthorn Primary School has recently introduced a new curriculum and robust individual support programmes for disabled pupils and those with special educational needs.

There are also continuing improvements in the quality of the learning environment it says and in terms of childrens’ behaviour.

A spokeswoman for The Education Fellowship said: “We are aware there is much to do over the next two terms but feel confident it can be done.

“The Education Fellowship congratulates Michelle Ginn and her team for the impressive work done last term and they, together with Blackthorn’s parents and pupils, can be assured of the fellowship’s unwavering commitment as the academy builds on its culture of improvement and the recognised momentum of change.”