Northampton primary school still rated ‘inadequate’ but showing signs of improvement

Blackthorn Academy in Northampton
Blackthorn Academy in Northampton
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A Northampton primary school has been rated “inadequate” for the second time by Ofsted, despite recent improvements made by a new principal.

Blackthorn Primary School was placed in special measures in July 2014 after inspectors found teaching to be “dull” and standards “exceptionally low.”

The school, which is sponsored by the Education Fellowship Trust, has been subject to a series of monitoring visits in the past two years.

In June, a full inspection was carried out and, despite finding a number of improvements, inspectors have still judged the school to be ‘inadequate’.

A report of the visit states: “Leaders have not taken appropriate action in response to safeguarding concerns. They have not ensured that those with responsibility for safeguarding have received the support they need to carry out their roles effectively.

”The school continues to be affected by leadership and staffing changes. This limits its ability, currently, to make rapid progress.

”Outcomes for pupils remain well below national expectations. The majority of pupils in Year 6 will leave the school without the knowledge and understanding to do well at secondary school.

”Pupils’ behaviour, while improving, is not yet good. Low-level disruption continues to disrupt learning in some lessons.”

However, the inspectors did find that, since her appointment in September 2015, school principal Michelle Ginn has brought about “many improvements” and successfully set a new direction for the school.

The report also stated that pupils are responding well to the school’s new values and feel an increasing sense of pride in their school.

Lizzie Rowe, chief operating officer for The Education Fellowship, said the trust is pleased that the inspection report recognised that “transformational change” is taking place at Blackthorn Primary School.

She said: “The report noted that Blackthorn has a high and complex caseload of safeguarding issues. All safeguarding policies, procedures and protocols have been reviewed and the academy has invested in an online safeguarding management tool which will ensure that any cause for concerns are followed up in a timely manner, fully monitored and all conversations and actions recorded.

“This is already having a positive impact on the efficiency of dealing with cause for concerns and therefore ensuring that pupils at Blackthorn are kept safe.”

Mrs Rowe said Ofsted inspectors saw the “clear dedication” to pupils from staff, governors and the Fellowship Trust.

She said: “We are confident that, at its next inspection, Blackthorn will be shown to be building quickly and solidly on the superb work taking place at all levels at the academy.”

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