Hartlepool school branded 'inadequate' by Ofsted inspectors
A school has been branded “inadequate” by education watchdogs amid concerns over both attainment and bullying.
“A significant minority of pupils do not” feel safe at St Hild’s Church of England Voluntary Aided School, in King Oswy Drive, Hartlepool, according to the newly-released report by inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).
Both St Hild’s and education bosses locally have said they are disappointed with the verdict as they do not believe it reflects the school.
Headteacher Tracey Gibson also highlighted the positives outlined in the report while accepting “that more work is required to ensure that pupils receive the best possible education”.
“Inadequate” is the lowest of four conclusions available to Ofsted inspectors and shows the school has fallen one grade from its previous “requires improvement” judgement in 2017.
The new report begins: “Many pupils feel happy and safe at St Hild’s Church of England School.
“But a significant minority of pupils do not. Some pupils believe more should be done to help them if they feel unsafe.
“A significant number of pupils do not come to school often enough.
“Most pupils told us that bullying is not common. But some pupils were not confident that staff are quick to sort bullying out so that it stops.
“Pupils do not achieve as they should. They fall behind other pupils in the country who have similar starting points.
“Those pupils who are disadvantaged fall behind even further.”
Provisional GCSE figures for 2019, which were released a month before the inspectors’ visit in September, suggests the school’s Progress 8 figure – which measures pupils’ progress from the ages of 11-16 – was “well below average”.
The Ofsted report adds: “The quality of education is inadequate.
“Pupils, including those who are disadvantaged, do not achieve as they should.
“In English, mathematics and science, many pupils do not remember the important knowledge they need.”
Yet it also stresses: “The school is an orderly place to learn. Staff and pupils get on well together.
“The Christian character of the school has a strong influence on pupils’ development.
“Pupils have positive attitudes in lessons. If poor behaviour happens, teachers deal with it so that other pupils can get on with their learning.”
The report acknowledges that school leaders are already making some of the “improvements required” although it adds that they “need to urgently act to develop a culture of safeguarding so that all pupils feel safe and are kept safe”.
Mrs Gibson said: “We are very disappointed with Ofsted’s overall judgement as it does not reflect our school.
“It is important to note that the inspectors’ report acknowledges the achievements of senior leaders and governors – in co-operation with staff, pupils, parents/carers and external partners - to transform the culture of the school and improve the quality of education.
“It also identifies a number of other positives, including how well pupils behave and work with each other and the strong guidance provided by the school so that they enjoy their time here and are considerate of others.
“Nevertheless, we accept that more work is required to ensure that pupils receive the best possible education. Therefore, it is vital that everyone continues to work together to build on the school’s strengths and bring about further improvement as we strive to take the school forward.”
Paul Rickeard, the director of education for the Church of England's Durham Diocese, said: “This is a very disappointing result and one that sadly doesn’t reflect the massive amount of work that has already been done within the school by everyone to try to turn things around. We will work with the school and partners to effect a timely improvement in the situation.”
Sally Robinson, director of children’s and commissioned services at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “We are very disappointed indeed as the school has been making progress, although this has not come quickly enough for the requirements of the new Ofsted inspection regime.
“As an authority, we are absolutely committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for all Hartlepool children and, as such, we will continue to offer our fullest support, working closely with the diocese and other parties to help the school move forward.”