Ofsted criticises outstanding-rated Northampton secondary school for excluding ‘too many’ pupils

GV of The Duston School (new building on Berrywood Road). 'NEWS, NEWSDESK. '070910SL18
GV of The Duston School (new building on Berrywood Road). 'NEWS, NEWSDESK. '070910SL18

An Ofsted inspector says “too many” pupils are being excluded from The Duston School in Northampton and it is “not improving” behaviour.

Following concerns about pupil behaviour at the school, which was rated outstanding in November 2013, Ofsted carried out an inspection last month.

A report of the visit, carried out by Her Majesty’s inspector Emma Ing, stated school leaders and managers had “not taken effective action to maintain the high standards of behaviour and attitudes identified at the school’s previous inspection”.

The report said: “Too many pupils are internally secluded or excluded from the school for fixed periods and too many are repeatedly experiencing these serious punishments.”

The report states that, according to the school’s records, more than 10 pupils had been excluded on three or more separate occasions since the start of the school year in September.

Senior leaders told the inspector that “the bar had been raised”, but were unable to identify in what ways the triggers for these high-level punishments have changed.

The report states: “The school’s strategies to support these pupils to improve their behaviour are not working.

“Pupils who are eligible for free school meals and those who have been identified as having special needs are excluded at a much higher rate than others.

“Senior leaders have not devised effective ways to help these pupils, or for all others at risk of exclusion, in order to support them to improve their behaviour.

“The school’s systems for tracking improvements in individuals’ behaviour resulting from the interventions are not working.”

The inspector also found that pupils did not always arrive at lessons promptly.

When challenged, different pupils explained that “lots of pupils are late” and indicated that they did not feel that the school attached much importance to this.

The report also states that in “far too many” lessons small groups of pupils were observed “lolling around, chatting to neighbours, and quietly ‘larking about’”.

Teachers were also “not consistent in checking for and countering low-level disruptive behaviour, or minor infringements to the uniform policy”, the report said.

Ofsted has set the school as series of priorities to improve behaviour including reducing the number of fixed term exclusions and internal seclusions:

- Create individual action plans and programmes to support those at risk of internal seclusion or exclusion to improve their behaviour.

- Gather and analyse data about incidents of unacceptable behaviour in order to identify pupils and groups of vulnerable pupils.

-And ensure all staff share high expectations of pupils’ behaviour and punctuality and that they identify and challenge all behaviour that does not meet these expectations.

The school has been approached for a comment.