‘Stunned’ headteacher rails against Ofsted report as inspectors put Northampton school in special measures

Rachel Steele
Rachel Steele

A Northampton secondary school has been downgraded to ‘inadequate’ and the Governors criticised for 'badly letting down the school'

But headteacher at Weston Favell Academy, Rachel Steele says the school will challenge the report, which she argues does not reflect the hard work of staff and improving exam results

She said: “Despite the tremendous improvements evident across the academy in teaching and learning, student behaviour, and following our best GCSE and A Level results for a decade in August 2016, we are stunned that Ofsted have judged us to be inadequate and placed the academy in Special Measures.

“We do not believe that this is a special measures school and we will be challenging this judgement through the Ofsted complaints procedure.

“Ofsted did not give the academy the recognition it deserves.”

The school has sent a letter to parents, pointing out recent praise it has garnered from education experts and contrasting this with the Ofsted judgement.

The National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, visited Weston Favell Academy days before the Ofsted visit, and apparently praised was apparently impressed by the calm learning environment teachers had created.

Parents had also declared their backing for the school in the Ofsted report itself. More than eight in 10 said their children are happy and they would recommend Weston Favell Academy.

The school also posted its best exam results in a decade with 18 per cent increase in the number of students leaving the academy with a A* - C in GCSE English and Maths

Mrs Steele also railed against the behaviour assessment, which she said does not recognise the pride students have in their school.

She said: “Since introducing Positive Discipline we have a calm, safe and orderly environment.

They saw no low level disruption throughout the inspection as is typical in the academy.

“Despite this, Ofsted were still concerned that a minority of students are excluded or have poor absence to the academy.

“This skewed their opinion of behaviour in the academy.”

However, the report told a very different story, particularly about how leaders allocated money meant for students at a disadvantage.

The inspectors wrote: "Leaders’ use of pupil premium spending and Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up funding has not been effective. Disadvantaged pupils, including the most able disadvantaged pupils, fail to make the progress of which are they capable in too many subject areas."

In particular, governors of the school were lambasted for failing to act.

"Governance by the trustees of The Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust is weak. As a result, leaders have not received appropriate challenge or support. This has significantly hampered the school’s improvement."

"Those responsible for governance have badly let down this school. They have not held leaders to account to ensure that the standard of pupils’ achievement rapidly improves. They have failed to check that school-improvement support is appropriate or is having the required impact.

"They have not safeguarded the school’s finances or ensured that pupil premium funding or the Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up funding makes a difference for the pupils who are eligible."

It is understood an external review of the school’s use of the pupil premium could be undertaken.