Teaching overhaul in bid to save school

A RADICAL overhaul of teaching staff is being carried out in a bid to save a secondary school earmarked for closure by the Government.

Elliot Furniss

A RADICAL overhaul of teaching staff is being carried out in a bid to save a secondary school earmarked for closure by the Government.

Alderman Blaxill School, in Colchester, has been in special measures since last May and was recently told to improve or face closure.

Plans to replace the school with a city academy have been shelved and now the school's headteacher has revealed a large proportion of teaching staff will change in a bid to improve standards.

John Tippett, the school's executive head, is also in charge at the Stanway School and the Thomas Lord Audley (TLA) School in the town and he will use teachers from the two other schools to give Alderman Blaxill, in Walnut Tree Way, a more experienced team.

He said he would replace a large proportion of the teaching staff at Alderman Blaxill in the autumn, including a number of long-term temporary staff and teachers from overseas, with experienced teachers with good track records.

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“In September we will be fully staffed. There are no supply teachers and no unfilled posts. A lot have been seconded into the school from Stanway and TLA,” he said.

“We want parents to see this as a place they can send their children. That's quite tricky when you still have a threat of closure hanging over you.”

He said the school had 380 pupils enrolled for the new school year - down from the current total of 560 - and his focus was to provide them with the best education possible.

“How small can a school get before it's unviable? We're not far off that. It gets harder and harder to attract not only students but teachers.”

Mr Tippett said the teachers on secondment would spend two years at Alderman Blaxill, gaining more experience while hopefully having a positive impact on the educational standards at the troubled school.

The news came as Ofsted published its latest monitoring inspection of the school on June 4 and 5.

In the report, inspector Stephen Abbott noted that while “inadequate” progress had still been made since it was placed in special measures last year, progress since the last monitoring inspection had been satisfactory.

He reported that Mr Tippett and his senior leadership team had made several changes. These include revising student groupings, setting up monitoring systems for behaviour and progress and holding short notice reviews of teaching.

Mr Abbott said: “The joint leadership arrangement has allowed Mr Tippett to recruit in a creative way.

“He has made several appointments to the leadership team at his own school and has seconded some of them to Alderman Blaxill School as assistant headteachers.

“Two experienced teachers from the Thomas Lord Audley School have also been seconded at assistant headteacher level.”

He added: “It is a recurring theme of this report that changes have been made in management structures and systems, but that more time is needed for their impact to be felt.”

Mr Tippett said it was a fair report that clearly indicated what the school could do to improve.

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