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What now for Ipswich Academy after it is slammed in Ofsted report which places it in special measures – MP Ben Gummer calls for change of sponsor unless action is taken ‘within a week’

PUBLISHED: 13:57 12 February 2015 | UPDATED: 13:57 12 February 2015

Ipswich Academy.

Ipswich Academy.

A major review was called for last night into Ipswich Academy after it was placed into special measures and blasted by Ofsted.

Pamela Hutchison is the new executive principal of Ipswich Academy. Pamela Hutchison is the new executive principal of Ipswich Academy.

Ipswich Academy, formerly Holywells High School, has been branded as “inadequate” by Ofsted in all five areas, with teaching described as “poor” and a section of students slammed for “persistently” bunking off.

It is the second academy in Ipswich to be given the rating in just three weeks after Suffolk New Academy, the former Chantry High School, was also placed into special measures.

In September, Pamela Hutchison the executive principal of Ipswich Academy, said it was ready to make progress “without a shadow of a doubt”.

But in the latest inspection, carried out in early January, inspectors found achievement in all Key Stages was “inadequate” and students’ literacy skills were “weak”, meaning they were being “held back”. Disabled students are “poorly supported”, teachers do not all have the “necessary skills” to effectively teach and students’ attitude to learning is “inadequate” and ‘slowing’ their progress, the report added.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said if a plan of action was not produced “within a week” the academy’s sponsor, the Learning Schools Trust, should make way.

He said: “I would want to see it in the next week: evidence put before parents on how the academy will improve for pupils. I know that they have been in conversation with the Department for Education so a plan needs to be produced, if not someone else should come in and do it.”

A joint statement from the academy and the trust said the Ofsted judgement was “inevitable” after poor exam results. Last summer four in every five students at the academy, which had its £16million new building opened by the then-education secretary, Michael Gove in 2013, failed to score at least five C grades including English and maths in their GCSEs.

The academy’s statement focuses on the two positive aspects found by inspectors. The report said there were 15 aspects which meant it needed to be in special measures.

“We are pleased to see that the inspectors recognise that the recent changes in leadership are establishing a clear way forward for the school,” the statement said.

“They comment that ‘governors have high aspirations…and articulate this clearly’ and that ‘since September 2014 they have been challenging senior leaders more effectively.’”

“The impact of the new principal and her team is also evident ‘the new executive principal has, in the short time she has been at the academy, improved systems for accountability and monitoring. She has ensured some of the right actions are now in place to bring about whole-school improvement’.”

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The school needs to have a new sponsor or the local authority should take it back, but I do not think the government would allow it.

A new sponsor would need to talk to trade unions, teachers, parents and pupils about where it needs to go and the appropriate curriculum it will provide.

“Mr Gummer said schools need time with their academy sponsors to show improvement but how many years before there is success and we need to look for another sponsor or for it to be in the hands of the local authority?”

The academy is for children aged between 11-18 and has around 840 students.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Acting decisively on under performance is a key part of our plan for education. As a result of this, our schools have been transformed with one million more children now being taught in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.

“Ipswich Academy has been placed in special measures – and clearly that is not good enough.

“We are in discussion with those currently responsible for running the school to make sure they are working to drive up standards across the school.”

Ipswich Academy and its sponsor, the Learning Schools Trust’s response in full:

“The special measures judgment is disappointing but inevitable given the poor results last summer.

“We are pleased to see that the inspectors recognise that the recent changes in leadership are establishing a clear way forward for the school. They comment that ‘governors have high aspirations…and articulate this clearly’ and that ‘since September 2014 they have been challenging senior leaders more effectively’.

“The impact of the new principal and her team is also evident ‘the new executive principal has, in the short time she has been at the academy, improved systems for accountability and monitoring. She has ensured some of the right actions are now in place to bring about whole-school improvement’.

“We are delighted that the inspectors recognise the great improvement in behaviour since the last Ofsted monitoring visit. They commented on student conduct around the building and their pride in the new building.

“Students have responded well to the higher standards that we now expect and the report notes that there has been a reduction in the number of behaviour related incidents.

“We are also pleased that the inspection found that students were safe and secure and that teachers and teachers have good working relationship.

“Ofsted have recommended that we carry out a review of Governance at the Academy and we are working with the Department for Education and Suffolk County Council to put the right systems to support the Academy to build on the recent gains.

“While that is underway, Learning Schools Trust, the leadership and staff of the Academy will continue improving the areas identified by recent inspections to give our students the best possible outcomes this year.”

37 comments

  • I was at this school over its most successful period where exam results reached an acceptable level, with talented committed staff-striving to raise student AND family aspirations. Fear of academy status caused some to leave (fears raised and germinated by regional union staff). The pay is the same there as at high performing middle class catchment schools...but the day to day work is soooo much harder and stressful-especially with all the clap trap you hear from Govtofstedmediaforum posters. I reckon its possible for goodoutstanding teachers to manage about 3-5 yrs in a tough school before burning out or using the successful period to get a post at a higher achieving school, where the classroom management skills used previously are needed only occasionally as you coast towards great exam results for all teaching groups with motivated kids and supportive families...yet enjoying teaching and reading in the local press how amazing the school is. Its so simple its almost tragic.... Poppys Dad is probably not far wrong in his assessment, although tougher schools tend to struggle to attract and retain the best staff.

    Report this comment

    Zico Rice

    Monday, February 16, 2015

  • If anyone is to blame it must be the political system and apathy in our country. Poverty of aspiration, lack of hope and continual blame of those who it is easy to blame is rapidly destroying our education system and most importantly the young people it should be serving. Until we have a society that requires equity, equality and that sets accountability at the door of politicians who pontificate and trash our communities in their bid to gain votes and power, we will not be able to set free generations of Young people to succeed. Make no mistake, parents hold a fundamental responsibility, teachers should be inspirational and most of all politicians should stop using the lowest common denominator to achieve their selfish ambitions.

    Report this comment

    Blue and true since 1962

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • I stated this a few days ago, but I think it's worth repeating: this school will not improve until you change the culture of the people who live in that area and ensure that the very best teachers are provided for the school. Change the name of the school as often as you want and throw millions of pounds at the school every year, but nothing will change until there is hardline reform. I was raised on Gainsborough and I went to this school when it was called Nacton Heath, and nothing has changed in the past 28 years since I have left that school. The parents in that area are as apathetic as ever concerning the education and the discipline of their children, and the teachers who are employed at that school are still a bad joke.Reform must start from the bottom up. You first have to hit the feeder schools with the toughest and most gifted teachers to drill the message into the parents and their children that their education, their behaviour and their attendance at school is non-negotiable, and then as those children reach secondary school age you then hit the Academy with the same hardline teachers to make certain that the message continues to get through. This will take many years but if the efforts that are made are both consistent and forceful the message will get through, and then the culture will change for good. Right now, as things stand, yet another generation of children from the south east of Ipswich are being raised to be lifes losers, and I'm sick of it.

    Report this comment

    YipYap

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • My daughter goes to this school and I can assure you she is happy with most of her teachers a very small amount don't seem to care about the students learning but to be fair from what I have heard of some of the students attending this school they are violent aggressive rude disruptive should I keep going these students seem to then get let off over and over again which effects the students wanting to learne and the teachers trying to teach my daughter is hard working and vocal at the same time so if she feels she is not being taught properly then she will tell a senior member of staff as yet she has not been listened to and feels like she is being cheated out of some of her education so to be fair the bad eggs in the school should be dealt with and the teachers who can't handle or be bothered to teach should be removed from there roles the school should be looked at in these aspects I put my life on it there would be a dramatic improvement.

    Report this comment

    Balaam4973

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Peter Sadler. Next the name will be changed again so nobody knows what school is being referred to. I haven't any idea where this one is.

    Report this comment

    Peter Turtill

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Perhaps you should spend some time in a disruptive classroom Mr Gummer. The childish banter in Parliament is nothing compared to the daily problems in classrooms. There needs to be stricter disciplinary measures for pupils who just do not want to learn and do nothing but hamper other pupils progress and annoy teachers. Perhaps there should be a separate school for these pupils with more than one teacher in the classroom and even consider CCTV in extreme cases. The over zealous rules,regulations and number crunching targets have took a lot of the enjoyment out of the school teaching environment. Only this week we learned that a local head teacher resigned their post.

    Report this comment

    chantry

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • The basic principles apply wether its running a large or small business, school, hospital etc. Strong and Positive Leadership from the Top. if the leadership is weak then the staff lose interest and give second best. Put into place a quality Head Teacher and get rid of those staff who are not up to the job, then the school will prosper.

    Report this comment

    keith hawes

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Teachergood seems to agree with me that it all starts with a good headmaster. The question remains, how do so many poor heads get appointed; who is responsible for appointing them, why is nobody held to account for choosing the wrong people. Heads at all levels are paid well. Do they suffer any financial penalty when they fail?

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • As a teacher that taught at the academy a couple of years ago. I can tell you that the main problem there is with management: for teachers to succeed and develop in their subjects they need support from senior staff members - most of which cannot be bothered - it's like talking to a brick wall most of the time. Yes, some of the students are challenging and are out of control, this is life and you'll always have that in any school; what can one hardworking teacher contribute to a school that is primarily run by department heads that are unwilling or unable to discipline properly? You soon give up! There is no moral among staff - it's a depressing workplace.....and it isn't the kids! Classes there were disruptive and as subject teachers, you're left to fend for yourself as you won't find any senior support whatsoever. You'd send a really disruptive student out, only for them to return 10 minutes later, unreprimanded and once again disrupting the whole class! Until this issue is addressed, we'll go round in circles. Replace the lazy head of departments and employ a strong principal and that's a good start.

    Report this comment

    teachergood

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • OK so lets say we blame the parents. I agree - but what then? We still have a situation where kids with abilities and attitudes ranging from Morris Minor to Starship Enterprise are thrust together in class. The inevitable result is that everyone performs at Morris Minor level. The only way to solve this and move forward is by segregation I'm afraid.

    Report this comment

    IP3 Family man

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • I believe it would be appropriate for questionnaires to be used to identify what the problems are is it low motivation to learn from some of the pupils ,parents disinterest of poor teaching it is likely to be a mixture of all of these. Until there is a collective view of the core problems and the whole school involvement. And research into this Who knows where to begin

    Report this comment

    Heather

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Totally agree - well said.

    Report this comment

    IP3 Family man

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • I think it is high time that we stopped placing the blame solely on the teachers, and start looking at the students and their parents! You could be one of the world's most gifted and talented teachers, but believe me, if you're faced with a class of poorly behaved, unmotivated students, you do not stand a chance of success. A lot of this poor behaviour can be traced back to the families. How can a school successfully manage behaviour and increase engagement if there is zero support from the family? It is all very well being able to sanction poor and disruptive behaviour, but with many people, the minute their child is held to account for their behaviour- whether it be swearing at others, destroying other people's property or physical assaults on others- the previously uncontactable parent will raise their head and demand to know what right a school has to sanction behaviour, coming up with a plethora of excuses as to why poor little Johnny should be pitied rather than disciplined. In schools across the country, there are certain students who disrupt the classes for the sheer hell of it. Of course, with some students, disruptive behaviour can be attributed to a variety of reasons. Some students have genuine problems. Similarly, there are students who go through total hell before they even leave home for school of a morning, but they do not attract negative attention through their behaviour. As others have commented on this story, how often do you see poor behaviour modelled to very young children? In town centres and shops all over the country, you have babes in arms being effed and blinded at, or ignored by their parentscarers. What precedent does this set? It should be that, by the time a child is of secondary school age, they are literate and able to function in mainstream schooling. How is it acceptable that children start secondary school with such weak literacy? Having been in the education system for for a minimum of seven years, to me it is a mystery that primary schools are not held accountable for failing their pupils so miserably. I accept that weak literacy can be a barrier to behaviour, but again this is not something that the schools should be blamed for. What happened to be able to read and write by the time schooling started? Similarly, it is the job of the parents and carers of children to teach their offspring respect and basic manners. It is, should I be so bold to say, the responsibility of a parent to ensure that their child is fully equipped for education both in terms of their belongings and their attitude Teachers' hands are tied. How can they be expected to achieve success in schools where the unruly children are backed up by feckless parents? Perhaps all the armchair education experts would like to demonstrate to the trained professionals how to do their jobs!

    Report this comment

    FreddieHg

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • To be fair Robert Barrell, I don't think anyone is saying that the WHOLE catchment area and ALL the students are the cause of the problem and it is clear from your letter that you were one of those who must have contributed positively to the school. But there are enough bad parents and bad students to have a profound effect on the school, as is the case with many schools throughout the country. The whole country needs tough discipline but the government seems against it and I feel the public would not accept the level of discipline required. I look at countries like Singapore as the model I would like to see here in the UK.

    Report this comment

    Johnthebap

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • LMFAO what a mess

    Report this comment

    daniel ......

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • It's always too easy to blame the issues on the area. I went to Holywells and both myself and numerous others have left to straight into full time work and become successful with their lives. However I also know other people who have gone from other - apparently more respectable - schools and areas within Ipswich and have made a complete sham of their lives. Don't judge a book by it's cover - just because the School and area may have a bad reputation doesn't mean everyone in it should be tarnished with the same brush.

    Report this comment

    Robert Barrell

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Time to vote Gummer out guys!

    Report this comment

    kev70

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • @Poppy's Dad: You can't label all the students that attend Ipswich Academy as poor quality - my daughter attends there, she left her primary school one of the top in her year and is academically way above the national average. She HATES Ipswich Academy: there are too many disruptive students there; Punishments by the school are laughable and the teachers fail to control the classes. One lesson my daughter had was completely unsupervised for the whole lesson - standards are appalling. It is my opinion that this school has serious issues right through the core and is going to take a serious leader to steer this ship in the right direction. I've now been trying to get my daughter out of Ipswich Academy and into a school that is stable and performing well. Please don't blame ALL students, or in fact ALL teachers........the ones that wish to learn and behave are caught in the web of those that do not.

    Report this comment

    Emma Cherry

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Hang in there Hartley - I was in the same situation and nearly moved house to be nearer to Northgate but now have children at the academy. I am convinced the school will eventually turn its fortunes around. The new system is good but needs some time.

    Report this comment

    IP3 Family man

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Some very valid comments here. My own view is that the academy is actually now on the right lines and will eventually become a 'good' or even 'outstanding' school. I can assure everyone that there are many superb staff working at the academy and they deserve medals for the job they do. There are however some poor teachers and these need to be removed if they cant raise their game fast. Special measures status can I believe accelerate this removal process so in a way I hope this is good news. Yes there is a high proportion of difficult pupils, and some are just impossible to teach. These individuals need to be removed to other types of more specialist establishment asap because the level of disruption they cause in class is huge. The school are slow to implement this removal process for some reason - probably because of the rules placed upon them from higher up or possibly a lack of spaces in other more specialised schools. I don't know. There are also many bright kids eager to learn at the academy - but they are frustrated by so manylessons ruined by poor discipline and in some instances poor teaching skills. Some of these more motivated kids are writing applications to other schools right now. Its heart-breaking. The system is completely failing them. Come on senior management - sort out the discipline issue by permanently removing the worst culprits. If there isn't a special school available - build one or use the old Holwells building.

    Report this comment

    IP3 Family man

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • I can't accept that the staff do not have any role in this. The Academy at Holbrook was failing until they replaced the head master and weeded out the dead wood staff. It's not the pupils and parents, they don't run the school.

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • How much longer is this farce going to carry on. Surely there must be something that can be done to help the children at this school who do want to learn, who do have supportive parents but are just unlucky to live in the catchment area. I attended the school in the late 70's and early 80's. It was poor then. Poor in every area. Over thirty years later and I can see no improvement. Still living in the catchment area, I find myself worried sick that Ipswich Academy is the school my son will attend in a couple of years time. We have no choice but to apply for a different school. We wanted our son to attend his catchment school for several reasons....travel and local friendships being the two main ones. We really were rooting for the school when it became an Academy and feel so bad for all the well behaved children that are continually let down.

    Report this comment

    Hartley Hare

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • @Iesha A I'm sorry to hear that your daughter is being bullied, it is not acceptable in any way, however, the reason that schools enforce rules such as hair colour and piercings is because it instills some rules. In the lawless area that schools are becoming it needs the staff to be able to show who is in control. In most careers there are rules regarding the way you are required to present yourself,why should school be any different, as I understand a parent has to give permission for a piercing if a child is under 16?! The point being that if they cannot follow simple rules regarding their appearance they are not going to give 2 hoots about bullying

    Report this comment

    Who cares who I am

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • A huge part of this rests with the parents of the kids that attend, or don't attend, the school.Have you never seen small children being dragged around shops by parents who are effing and blinding at the kids most of the time. Those kids do not stand a chance in life and will be the ones that are serial offenders of the schools they attend. In these days of political correctness these kids cannot be punished and the old threat of 'your parents will be told' is just laughable. At some schools nothing will change unless teachers are given more powerful and effective disciplinary tools and the parents are made to be involved.

    Report this comment

    how'd the town do

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • I do think it should lose its title ..Ipswich academy. ..it's not a good advert for the town and it does not represent all the good schools in Ipswich. .. it should be Nacton Heath academy.

    Report this comment

    deeber

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • @Who cares who I am...you have hit one nail right on the head !, teachers used to be able to 'discipline' pupils !, now it is against their 'human rights' !, god help us !, If a child does not have any discipline, that child will NOT learn any Self discipline !, every child has energy, channelling that energy into 'Constructive' pursuits is vital, because we all know where the opposite leads !

    Report this comment

    freedomf

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • I have to say my Daughter goes here, and her learning has excelled BUT she does have issues with being bullied. I feel that because of so many changes in the way schools are now run, it affects the schools because lets be honest kids now days know that if they do wrong they will get sent home and a day off school! So of course their going to keep doing stuff because with all the laws and everything in place now days schools arnt as strict as they used to be. Instead of worrying about how many pairs of earrings your wearing or if you have a nose piecing or high lighted hair , the school should worry more about how they can punish the kids who bully, smoke, be aggressive, in a stricter manner . Teachers are laughed at now days by the kids because they know the teachers cant do or say much to them. I dont agree with "cane" in anyway but surely there must be a more fitting punishment needed, as the kids run the school

    Report this comment

    Iesha A

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Deary me, these schools have probably been failing for 40 years, OFSTED started in 1992 and we all know the social demographic is the key to a schools success, it's not the Teachers, as Poppys Dad quite rightly states, it's the social deprivation of the ears these schools are in and the desolate futures families in these areas face, which filters down to the next generation.

    Report this comment

    Tedbundy

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • I am still trying to work out what a sponsor would get out of this ? It's clearly a troublesome school and normally in the real world sponsors only back something that works or is at the top.. so who will sponsor a failure ?..

    Report this comment

    deeber

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • How are you supposed to know what school anyone is referring to these days when they all have generic sounding "academy" names? Perhaps if they spent the effort on doing something worthwhile instead of just sitting around coming up with stupid names something might happen.

    Report this comment

    Tamara Knight

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Take all the staff from there and swop them with a good school's staff. You will then see its not the staff that are the problem , its the quality of the students - Simple

    Report this comment

    Poppys Dad

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Shakespeare wrote "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" and, it seems. that 'a school by any other name can be as bad'. I knew this school in the 80's and then it was on split sites and called 'Nacton Heath High School' (ages 13-16)and 'Landseer School' (ages 11-13). Behaviour of many students was appalling. The school united on one site and eventually the name was changed to 'Holywells High School' to get rid of the reputation associated with 'Nacton'. Behaviour continued to be appalling. So, the bright government of ours had it changed into an 'Academy' and so any association with the name 'Holywells' was also lost. It appears that the behaviour is still appalling. So all those changes of name have done nothing and that is because the root cause of the problem is our governments (of all political types) constantly lowering standards of behaviour in UK society. The troublesome students in our schools often have troublesome parents and our politicians are scared to confront the issue. In China they have just executed a criminal billionaire; in the UK he would have been given a Knighthood or Lordship.

    Report this comment

    Johnthebap

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Just shows what a waste of money and resources this business of academy status is. It's just a way of the local authority and their political masters washing their hands of the problem and passing the buck to unpaid governors and others. How is the public interest served by investing so much money without fixing the original problem?

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Everybody blames the Government, the Academy, the staff, the local MP or the incumbent Education Minister. Stop passing the blame and look closer to home. The behavior of some of the pupils is beyond appalling and the staff can do nothing about it. Some of the families that attend both this school and Chantry have issues with authority and will rebel no matter what. The pupils will attempt to disrupt classes and get a kick from it. When I was at school that meant the cane from the headmaster. Today that means they get sent home for the day! So if a pupil doesn't want to be there all they need to do is be disruptive! Until teachers are given back some ability to discipline this trend will continue. Parents, you need to look at your children - your should be horrified if they are sent home or excluded, however, I imagine if that happens there are some that laugh about it. There is the problem!

    Report this comment

    Who cares who I am

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Mr Gummer you are the only person that needs changing.! ..Michael Gove got the boot for his failures now it's your turn ben.

    Report this comment

    deeber

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • That's right Mr. Gummer, replace an academy company with.... another academy company. You know the academies that research has proven makes no difference to educational achievement? It's the doc leaf for the educational nettle rash that is apathy and contempt by the young for their future in some parts of your constituency. How about you actually do some work with the school, visit there, talk with the staff, assist with formulating a strategy and working on the change management to get it working, followed by regular visits to assess its impact? If you aren't willing to get involve and lazily suggest doing exactly the same thing (another academy) to fix the problem then I have to simply laugh and ignore your media sound bites.

    Report this comment

    IpswichResident

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • As I recall the managing authority has been changed, the sponsor has been changed, the buildings have been changed, the management have been changed and the staff significantly changed. What's left? The pupils? The parents? The local community is not being well served by this politically driven doctrine.

    Report this comment

    peter sadler

    Thursday, February 12, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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