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First Ofsted inspections of Cliff Lane Primary School and Castle Hill Junior School since joining Bright Tribe

05 December, 2017 - 08:15
Castle Hill Junior School (and Castle Hill Infant School) in Ipswich, run by Bright Tribe Trust. The junior school has been rated 'requires improvement' by Ofsted. But before it became an academy in December 2014, it was in special measures. Picture: ARCHANT

Castle Hill Junior School (and Castle Hill Infant School) in Ipswich, run by Bright Tribe Trust. The junior school has been rated 'requires improvement' by Ofsted. But before it became an academy in December 2014, it was in special measures. Picture: ARCHANT

The first Ofsted inspections of two under-performing Ipswich primary schools since being taken over by an academy trust have criticised leadership shake-ups for creating long periods of instability and slowing progress.

Cliff Lane Primary School in Ipswich has been rated 'requires improvement' with 'good' features by Ofsted. Picture: PHIL MORLEYCliff Lane Primary School in Ipswich has been rated 'requires improvement' with 'good' features by Ofsted. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Stockport-based Bright Tribe Trust took over Cliff Lane Primary School, Castle Hill Junior School, as well as Castle Hill Infant School, in December 2014. A teaching union is now calling for an investigation into Bright Tribe after several recent “worrying developments”.

Under previous local authority control, Cliff Lane was rated ‘requires improvement’ amid concerns over teaching and early years’ progression. Castle Hill Junior School was ‘inadequate’ and put in special measures amid serious concerns over results, behaviour, and attendance.

When the schools joined Bright Tribe, they technically closed and reopened as academies, and lost their Ofsted ratings. Both heads left in December 2015, a year later, in a Bright Tribe improvement restructure.

In summer 2016, just 20% of Year 6 pupils at Cliff Lane left with the expected standards in reading, writing and maths; one of the worst in Suffolk. It was 38% at Castle Hill. The 2017 results are due for all schools this month.

Nadia Bosse, a senior leader at London primary schools for over 10 years, was appointed as Cliff Lane principal in September 2016.

Gemma Andrews, former vice principal at Tendring Technology College, become principal of both Castle Hill junior and infant schools in June 2017. It meant the school went without a permanent headteacher for 18 months.

This week, after Ofsted visits earlier this term, Cliff Lane was rated ‘requires improvement’ with ‘good’ features (leadership and behaviour) and Castle Hill was rated ‘requires improvement’.

The trust is “confident” that the shake-ups have led to “sustainable improvement” and backed both schools to become ‘outstanding’.

Ofsted praised the new heads for being a “catalyst” for “rapid” improvements. But the leadership changes at Cliff Lane resulted in “instability”. Improvement “was too slow” until September 2016.

But the 440-pupil school is now “rapidly progressing to being good”. Mrs Bosse is “relentless in her pursuit of good teaching, learning and assessment”, takes “decisive action” over weak teaching, and has a “clear vision”.

At Castle Hill, the shake-up slowed improvement and led to expectations which were not high enough. But a “clear educational philosophy” is now “driving improvement” at the 290-pupil school in Dryden Road. All pupils are now challenged but exclusions are high despite better behaviour.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We are working with Bright Tribe to ensure that Castle Hill Junior School and Cliff Lane Primary School improve their performance. We are committed to ensuring that all children get the high quality education that they deserve.”

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