Leiston: School goes into special measures

A TEACHING union has accused education bosses of failing pupils at a doomed middle school after it received a scathing Ofsted report.

Leiston Middle School has been placed into special measures after inspectors said it was “failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education” and teaching standards were “inadequate”.

The 353-pupil school is due to close next summer as part of Suffolk County Council’s shake-up of the education system and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the authority had to take some of the blame for the assessment.

Graham White, Suffolk secretary of the NUT, said: “The school is due to close and that can’t do a lot for staff morale and it doesn’t help the pupils.

“Teaching staff do their very best for all pupils but, in a situation like this, they know their school is going to close and they don’t know if they are going to be able to find new jobs.

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“I hope the authority doesn’t use this report to say they were right to close the school because it does not prove that. The decision has made staff morale go down when they are doing their best to deliver.”

He added: “We do not think Ofsted is terribly helpful with their view of teaching and learning as their methods at looking at teaching and learning are not necessarily the best way.”

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Ofsted inspectors said that pupils at the school were not achieving good enough exam results and standards were well below the national average.

Teaching overall was “inadequate” with an “insufficent amount of good teaching” to help pupils’ learning and progress.

“In general, teachers talk for too long and provide the same tasks for all pupils regardless of their abilities,” said the report.

Inspectors said that, since the last inspection in 2008, senior leaders at the school had not made an impact in raising standards, saying they had not set challenging targets for pupils or staff or monitored progress well enough.

They did point out that pupils found the school a “safe, healthy and enjoyable” place to be, that attendance was good and bullying was rare.

The school was given a number of pointers to drive up standards and Neil Challis, who took over as headteacher last summer, said measures were already in place to secure the necessary improvements.

“Changes in leadership arrangements within the school have recently been made and as a consequence new plans for improvement are under way and will continue to be developed,” he said.

“The report acknowledges many positive aspects of the school. The school values and appreciates the continued support of parents and the community.”

Graham Newman, county council cabinet member for schools, said: “The School Organisation Review is focused on improving attainment for all Suffolk schoolchildren.

“It is absolutely essential we complete the review to close the gap in attainment between the two and three tier systems.

“There will be the same number of children to teach following the review as there are now and therefore so we want to retain the best teachers for Suffolk.

“We are working with staff to help them secure a position within the new structure.”

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