Braintree: MP Brooks Newmark critical of Ofsted report on Alec Hunter Humanities College
06:00 20 December 2012
A SCHOOL has gone from being the most improved in Essex to “inadequate” in just two years - sparking criticism of Ofsted by an MP.
Brooks Newmark, parliamentary representative for Braintree, said he was disappointed with the regulator’s critical assessment of Alec Hunter Humanities College. It said the college in Stubbs Lane had serious weaknesses, including inadequate teaching and pupil achievement.
The school has this week revealed it wants to become an academy and forge links with Saffron Walden County High School, which has been graded outstanding by Ofsted.
Mr Newmark, speaking after a visit to the school, said: “There’s an overall problem in maths and science - there’s a huge shortage of qualified teachers and that’s something the Department for Education needs to wrestle with.
“Obviously I was disappointed with the report. I think that it effectively damns the whole teaching rather than it being specifically where there are issues and it does have a major impact on morale.
“I think it’s a good school and the parents I have spoken to agree.”
Trevor Lawn, headteacher at Alec Hunter Humanities College, said: “Although we anticipated that our examination results in 2012 might precipitate a negative judgement, we remain certain that the school has strengths in many areas and will now move rapidly in the right direction.
“This academy arrangement, which we have been pursuing for some time now, will generate the extra boost needed to elevate the school to where we and our community want it to be.”
The college said it took the decision to apply for academy status so as to help it make “rapid and consistent progress”.
Martin Fee, chair of governors at Alec Hunter Humanities College, said: “We are delighted that Saffron Walden County High School’s Academy Trust has agreed to enter into a sponsored academy partnership with Alec Hunter.
“We are determined to ensure that the efforts that went into making Alec Hunter one of the most improved schools in Essex in 2010 are reinvested in taking the school forward.”
The report by Ofsted, compiled after a visit to the college in October, read: “The quality of teaching is inadequate. There has been too much weak teaching over time leading to groups of students underachieving. Some teachers do not match work to the learning needs of students and this prevents students from making good progress.
“Some groups of students make consistently less progress than expected in English, mathematics and science.
“Students underachieve particularly in mathematics. This is because teaching in mathematics is weak and students are not given the opportunity to think and develop the skills they need to solve problems.”