Big Issue: Newent headteacher Jane Steele on the challenges ahead
CLEARLY we are extremely disappointed with the outcome of our Ofsted report.
However, we do accept that it has highlighted a number of very important areas where the school needs to improve.
I, the staff and governors were heartened when more than 250 parents and carers attended a very positive meeting at the school on Monday this week, to discuss our two year 'Rapid Improvement Plan' to address this situation.
This robust action plan to raise the quality of teaching, raise the achievement of all pupils and improve the effectiveness of school leadership, is already being developed.
The main issues that are already being addressed include:
Despite high levels of attainment at GCSE, not enough of the lower ability students do as well as they could. We are changing our tracking and monitoring systems, as well as examining how teachers use data about their students, to ensure that all, including the least able, progress as well as they can.
The quality of marking and feedback was found to be inconsistent. We are addressing this as a matter of urgency.
We need to refocus our approach to improving teaching and learning to ensure lessons are appropriate for different learners.
However, we really believe that we are not an inadequate school. Staff and governors are totally committed and we will all do everything to demonstrate this to Ofsted when they return later in the year.
This will mean some difficult decisions will be necessary. One of the measures we are taking immediately is to appoint a team of Ofsted inspectors as educational consultants to carry out a full leadership and management review of senior and middle leaders and governors, and monitor teaching quality.
Our governors are also to receive external training on effective ways to challenge the school. A Project Lead from the Local Authority will also work with the school.
We still believe Newent is a successful school and we feel disappointed that the report doesn't acknowledge a lot of our strengths. Our students achieve really well at this school. Our GCSE results have been improving year on year – inspectors said the curriculum at Key Stage 4 was good. A range of high-quality A-level provision is available in our Sixth Form, which inspectors recognised as being very good.
Other strengths include careers advice, the pastoral system, students feeling happy and safe, the use of ICT and the wide range of extra-curricular opportunities for students.
We all know that this will be a tough road ahead but, by working together with the parents' support, this school still has a bright future.