Colchester: Praise for school’s ‘prompt response’ to Ofsted report


- Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

THE headteacher of a Colchester secondary school has welcomed a report that highlights the progress it has made on the back of a critical Ofsted inspection in February

Alderman Blaxill School in Paxman Avenue is set to close next year as demand for places in the town, and in particular at Alderman Blaxill, continues to fall. The closure has been agreed despite opposition from the community and the future use of the site remains undecided. Pupils will be able to move to two partner schools.

The school was inspected by Ofsted in February and the report, published in March, gave an overall grade of “requires improvement”.

Now Her Majesty’s Inspector John Mitcheson has carried out his first monitoring inspection and said senior leaders had responded “promptly” to the issues raised.

He said: “The school improvement plan has been re-written to include clear targets, timescales and review dates. The impact of actions taken since the last inspection is being recorded systematically to illustrate the progress made. Teachers have been grouped together to learn from each other, engage in joint planning and share good practice.

“Staff are responding positively to these opportunities and lesson monitoring is showing that this is leading to improvement.”

He added: “Recent training for the governing body has enhanced their understanding of interpreting Raise Online and other data, and how to use it to challenge senior leaders about the school’s performance.

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“Senior leaders and governors have begun to take effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement identified at the recent section five inspection.”

Headteacher Phil Jones said he was encouraged by the feedback and despite the impending closure of the school in summer 2014 he and his staff would continue to make improvements.

He said: “It was a very encouraging monitoring visit. Certainly we felt very positive about it and it was clear that it was felt that we were moving in the right direction.”

Alderman Blaxill was placed into special measures in 2007 following a damning Ofsted report and the subsequent struggles led to a further drop in enrolment numbers.

The school was out of special measures by the time it was rated as “satisfactory” in 2009 and again 2011. Under the new framework the “satisfactory” grading has been replaced with the new “requires improvement” rating.

With “requires improvement” comes extra involvement from Ofsted and more frequent monitoring inspections, such as last month’s visit.

Mr Jones, who joined in 2009, added: “There’s a very clear transition plan here and we are working very closely with our two partner schools.

“None of the students will have to apply for a place at another school – we are very carefully managing that transition.”