IT’S a big task – but headteacher Charlie Currie is confident that he can lead Basingstoke’s biggest secondary school to recovery.
Parents of the 1,084 pupils at the school have learned that Ofsted education watchdogs have given the school a second “notice to improve” and have again graded it as “inadequate”.
Despite the overall verdict, the inspectors have praised the steps taken by Mr Currie and his Interim Executive Board (IEB) as they seek to turn the school’s fortunes around.
Mr Currie and the IEB met parents on May 30 to discuss the latest Ofsted report, and apologised that the variability in the quality of teaching at the school had not been addressed before last September, when Mr Currie took over as interim headteacher.
Since Mr Currie arrived, there has been a high turnover of staff. The meeting heard that the school had 76 teachers last September and 36 (47 per cent) of those will have left by the end of the summer term.
Mr Currie also wrote to parents on May 31, before the Ofsted report was published this month, and told them it contained “no surprises.”
He added: “These are early days and I fully recognise that there is a considerable way to go on our journey towards becoming recognised as an outstanding institution.”
Mr Currie told The Gazette that the latest Ofsted report was “fair”, but he urged people to read the full report not just the headline “inadequate” grade.
He added: “It takes considerable time to turn around any large organisation, but make no mistake, we are in this for the long haul and the Interim Executive Board, staff and I are committed to our vision of continuous improvement.”
Mr Currie said he is “totally committed” to the school, and hopes that by the time it is inspected again in 12 months, it will be graded as “good.” But he admitted this is “a long way to go in a year.”
It was in March last year that the school – then under the headship of David Eyre – was first given a “notice to improve” and was graded as “inadequate”.
Mr Eyre, who filed an official protest against the Ofsted verdict, retired a few months later, and in September, Mr Currie arrived and the governing board was replaced by the IEB.
Last November, an Ofsted monitoring inspection said the school was making “satisfactory progress”. Following the inspection visit on May 2-3, Ofsted inspector Angela Corbett, who wrote the latest report, said pupil achievement is rising across the school, but progress is still too variable and overall achievement therefore remains “inadequate” .
Teaching was graded as “inadequate” overall because it is inconsistent across the school and there are “significant weaknesses in mathematics and science”. The inspector did comment that a “significant proportion of teaching was satisfactory, with some good and outstanding practice”.
The report noted: “Since the last inspection, there have been a considerable number of staff changes, and the leadership team has been restructured.
“The new headteacher, on arrival, quickly identified priorities for improvement and brought clear direction to the school. Roles and responsibilities of senior leaders have been established, as have lines of accountability, and improvements in attendance, behaviour and the curriculum has been secured.”
Praising Mr Currie and the new IEB, the Ofsted report said: “They have worked with determination and commitment to improve the equality of opportunity and outcomes for all students, with some positive impact already evident.”
Behaviour of pupils, and leadership and management were all given a “satisfactory” grading, and the report noted: “Under-performance is being tackled rigorously. A relatively high number of staff have left and effective professional development has been put in place to improve the quality of teaching.”