Hi-tech college failing to hit standards

A STATE-OF-THE-ART secondary school earmarked for closure has been told by Ofsted inspectors its standards remain “exceptionally low”.

Elliot Furniss

A STATE-OF-THE-ART secondary school earmarked for closure has been told by Ofsted inspectors its standards remain “exceptionally low”.

The £25million Bishops Park College in Clacton was placed in special measures in October and last month a new executive headteacher was installed to oversee the running of the school.

Despite some “satisfactory progress” in some areas, the college is still failing to reach its targets or improve its quality of teaching, inspectors said.

In her latest monitoring report, inspector Rhona Seviour praised the impact of executive head Nick Pavitt and the hard work of acting principal Peter Robinson since the college was placed in special measures.

But she said inadequate improvements had been made to standards at the Jaywick Lane site.

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“Weaknesses in the systems for tracking students' progress continue to be a major barrier to raising standards as does the lack of progression in students' curricular experiences,” she said.

“A number of recent developments have the potential to raise standards but have not yet had the time to do so.”

As at the time of the first inspection, one fifth of the lessons taught were considered “inadequate”, but now the proportion of good or outstanding lessons has risen beyond the target set for the school.

The inspector added: “The executive headteacher has quickly gained the confidence of staff and governors and an appreciation of what the college needs to do to improve.

“He has astutely identified weaknesses in the college's systems and procedures and management structures, although action to remedy these and other areas of inadequacy are not yet reflected in a coherent plan for the college's improvement.”

Mr Pavitt, who took up his post in February and also runs nearby Colbayns High School, said: “Staff have worked incredibly hard to boost the quality of teaching and learning and our students have responded really well.

“I am proud to be associated with the school and am confident we will go on to really build on this first monitoring visit and make good progress. Of course, there is much work still to be done.”

Mr Pavitt is set to remain in his post until September, by which time it is envisaged the schools will form a “hard federation” with a single governing body.

The 500-pupil college opened to great fanfare in 2002 as part of a PFI at a cost of around £25million. It was visited soon after its opening by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

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