Failing school 'making progress'

A FAILING Colchester secondary school placed under special measures last year is making some - but not enough - progress, inspectors have said.

Elliot Furniss

A FAILING Colchester secondary school placed under special measures last year is making some - but not enough - progress, inspectors have said.

Alderman Blaxill School, in Paxman Avenue, was put under special measures last July.

The latest progress report from Ofsted's Stephen Abbott has revealed recently appointed headteacher Jonathon Tippet, who also runs the nearby Thomas Lord Audley School and the Stanway School, has improved Alderman Blaxill - but there is still a long way to go.

Mr Abbott noted that the “significant changes at senior level” had helped create a “clear separation between the academic and pastoral aspects of the school”.

He added: “At the time of the second monitoring visit, Mr Tippett had been in post for five weeks and only eight weeks of term time had elapsed since the first visit.

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“Judgements about the progress made since the last visit have taken into account what would be feasible in the time available.

“Satisfactory progress in improving the school has been made in the last few weeks, but not enough to counter the inadequate progress of the previous six months.”

He said too many weak lessons continued to be taught while about a third of parents questioned felt their children were still failing to make good progress.

Mr Abbott said standards of literacy needed to improved “urgently” but there had been clear improvements in pupils' attitudes and behaviour and Mr Tippett's “immediate impact” had helped “galvanise” the staff .

Richard Bourne, a member of the interim executive board that now runs the school for Essex County Council, said he was confident about the school's future.

Mr Bourne said that after the previous Ofsted visit, the school had been “perilously close” to being closed down for good but the new management team was focussed on providing the “best education possible” for the pupils.

He said: “There is a more positive attitude and it does seem that the atmosphere has lifted. There's some evidence that they (the children) are responding well to Mr Tippett - he's got a very 'no-nonsense' approach and the same is now true for some of the teachers.

“There was quite a strong chance that it would have been shut but it's now beginning to improve and there's a good chance that the school can come out of special measures.”

The school has been earmarked for closure by Essex County Council, along with Thomas Lord Audley, and could be replaced by an academy - plans that have met with considerable objection by many parents.

A consultation process on the decision closed in January but a decision has yet to be made.

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