Fourth ‘outstanding’ school in eight weeks spirals in Ofsted inspection
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A flagship secondary school rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted has seen its inspection grading plummet – making it the fourth top-rated school in Suffolk in just a matter of weeks to see its rating fall dramatically.
The Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill was given the top rating in October 2012 by the education watchdog.
However following a re-inspection at the beginning of March this year, it has now fallen to a ‘requires improvement’ rating.
It represents the latest scalp in a series of ‘outstanding’ schools over just two months to plummet, following Great Whelnetham CEVC Primary School (now ‘inadequate’), Kersey CEVC Primary School (‘requires improvement’) and County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds (‘inadequate’).
It comes as just 23% of ‘outstanding’ schools inspected last year nationally kept their grades, prompting calls from Suffolk’s education leaders to question whether the rules around school inspections need to be changed.
At the moment ‘outstanding’ schools have greater exemption from re-inspections, which mean many have not been assessed for six or more years.
In a letter to parents, Samuel Ward Academy headteacher Andy Hunter said: “It is a report which reflects us as we are.
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“There are areas of excellence and areas which need to improve. There are things we do very well and things at which we need to be better.
“Nothing in the report was a surprise to me, and I should think that many of you will feel the same way.
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“Of course it is a disappointment that ours is not a school that Ofsted can rate as ‘good’ at the moment, but as I hope you will sense from the report, it is definitely a school which is on a journey of improvement.”
The school is the flagship establishment of the Unity Schools Partnership trust of academies, previously known as the Samuel Ward Academy Trust.
The trust’s chief executive Tim Coulson said that there had been “too many changes of leadership”, which had prompted the recruitment of Mr Hunter on a long-term basis. He was pleased the report recognised his work to date.
Conservative cabinet member for education at Suffolk County Council, Gordon Jones, said he had already raised his concerns regarding inpsection rules with the Regional Schools Commissioner.
Labour education spokesman Jack Abbott said he had written to Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman last year asking for a review.
A spokesman from Ofsted previously said that to lift the exemption for ‘outstanding’ schools would require an act of Parliament, and added that Ms Spielman had been “very clear” that Ofsted wanted the exemption removed.