Northampton school branded 'inadequate' by watchdog a year ago is already rebuilding, says new head

Rebuilding: Head teacher Richard Lucas and executive head Rebecca Osborne in the new outdoor classroom.
Rebuilding: Head teacher Richard Lucas and executive head Rebecca Osborne in the new outdoor classroom.

The new head of a village school on the edge of Northampton branded "inadequate" by Ofsted in a damning report says they are bouncing back after a raft of improvements.

In September 2016, Inspectors said Collingtree C of E Primary School had declined rapidly since it was last rated "good" in 2011, stating far too many children were being "badly let down" by teaching and the leadership team.

Pupils model the new outdoor classroom at Collingtree C of E Primary School.

Pupils model the new outdoor classroom at Collingtree C of E Primary School.

But after executive head teacher Rebecca Osborne took over the responsibility of the school in September 2016 and introduced a series of measures raise the standards of teaching, the school leaders say they are getting back on track.

Richard Albert was then brought in as head of the school in April 2016, the school was taken over by an academy trust in the same month and £25,000 of renovations have been carried out since - including a new outdoor classroom and a revamped assembly hall.

"The school feels very positive, the children are happy, they are being challenged," said Mr Albert.

"I think a "good" would be the very least we would expect. If they came in today, I would be confident of that."

Collingtree C of E Primary School

Collingtree C of E Primary School

When the new head teacher came to the school, situated in a leafy village street in one of wider Northampton's most affluent areas, he was surprised to see it in special measures.

He said: "When I first came to look around here I didn't expect a school in this location to be failing.

"It shouldn't be a failing school. It has lovely grounds, a lovely location.

"I don't think the Ofsted reflected the area it was in."

Collingtree C of E Primary School

Collingtree C of E Primary School

The September 2016 report criticised the level of reading and grammar at Collingtree Primary School, but Mr Albert said steps are being taken to address that.

There has been a "heavy" investment in new books and the school library had now been moved to the ground floor, where it previously sat at the top of a flight of stairs.

Storytelling sessions take place in the school woods as part of a move to inject reading and writing lessons with a sense of fun.

"I always think our job is to inspire and motivate children," he said.

"One of the ways we are looking to do that is to make learning more fun.

"If you talk at an adult for 30 minutes they switch off, so you can imagine what that does to children. When our children leave us in year six I would rather them be happy."

In 2016, Ofsted said an over-reliance on agency staff left children lacking continuity.

But parent governor Jo Cumberpatch, whose three children attend the school, was pleased to see a recruitment drive.

"In years two and three one of my children had seven different teachers, but now he has the same teacher every day," she said.

"This is a school I would recoomend now."

The Peterborough Diocese Education Trust, which has just taken over the school, is undergoing rapid expansion and now looks after 22 sites across Northamptonshire.

But as the school is no a sponsored academy its next Ofsted inspection will not be until 2019.