School apologises for GCSE paper error as it falls to inadequate

SET Saxmundham School has been downgraded from 'good' to 'inadequate'

SET Saxmundham School has been downgraded from 'good' to 'inadequate' - Credit: Google Maps

A Suffolk school has been downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors amid growing concerns about falling teaching standards and high staff turnover. 

The latest report by the education watchdog has highlighted pupils’ complaints about the low standard of teaching they receive at Seckford Education Trust (SET) Saxmundham School and a lack of support to enable them to achieve their high aspirations. 

Too often, teachers did not know specifically what needed to be taught in the classroom because although school leaders had many ideas, they did not set these out clearly and put them in place, the inspectors said. 

The problems have been exacerbated by a high number of changes to teaching staff. 

This week a parent of a child at the Seaman Avenue institution, who did not wish to be named, has also told the EADT about a blunder in which staff photocopying exam papers for SEND GCSE students missed a double-sided question sheet, which was not noticed until after the exam finished. 

Neil Philpott, headteacher at SET Saxmundham School

Neil Philpott, headteacher at SET Saxmundham School - Credit: SET Saxmundham

The school’s headteacher Neil Philpott said he had apologised to the 11 families of the GCSE students affected by the administrative error with the exam papers and had sent the exam board a ‘special consideration form’ to ensure the pupils’ marks will not be affected by the blunder. 

The Ofsted report also highlighted failing standards included poor personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, which was not being made a priority in the curriculum, resulting in children not being taught about the personal characteristics protected by law from discrimination, as well as the fundamental British values. 

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On the positive side, safeguarding arrangements were considered effective, while the pastoral support team was praised. 

The report said: “Pupils have experienced lots of disruption at the school since the previous inspection. Among other challenges, pupils have experienced many changes in teaching staff. This has led to declining standards of education and behaviour and has negatively affected pupils’ experiences over time.” 

Mr Philpott added: “With regards the outcome of our recent Ofsted report, we take the judgement extremely seriously and the team and I are confident that we can make rapid improvements. Ofsted has recognised our determination to achieve this.  

“Since the inspection in January and my appointment as head of school in February, we have acted swiftly to address the areas for development highlighted in the Ofsted report.  

“This includes introducing new GCSE options and strengthening our PSHE with a redesigned curriculum and new subject lead and teacher.”