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‘Requires improvement’ Ofsted for struggling Ipswich school

PUBLISHED: 19:06 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 19:06 02 March 2020

Head teacher at The Willows Primary School Paul Arch. Picture: ORWELL MULTI ACADEMY TRUST

Head teacher at The Willows Primary School Paul Arch. Picture: ORWELL MULTI ACADEMY TRUST

Archant

An Ipswich academy has been rated as ‘requires improvement’ by an Ofsted inspection after a monitoring inspection initially raised concerns five years ago.

The Willows Primary School was taken over by the Orwell Multi Academy Trust in 2015 after going through a difficult period of constantly changing headteachers, poor attendance and behaviour.

The initial visit in March 2015 was carried out due to concerns from the chief inspector that standards at the school in Downing Close, Chantry, had begun to decline.

Now, after 18 months under a new leadership team including head teacher Paul Arch, the "quality of education" at the school requires improvement and has dropped the overall rating down from 'good'.

However, Mr Arch said he was pleased the watchdog "recognised the journey the school had been on for the last 18 months".

Deputy head teacher at The Willows Primary School Viv Hunt. Picture: ORWELL MULTI ACADEMY TRUSTDeputy head teacher at The Willows Primary School Viv Hunt. Picture: ORWELL MULTI ACADEMY TRUST

He said: "Although the journey is not yet finished, Ofsted recognised the dramatic improvement in the quality of provision, especially in reading and mathematics."

The 2020 inspection, carried out in January, rated all areas as 'good', except for the quality of education.

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The report noted staff had recognised poor reading skills which had come a "barrier to learning" and this has now been addressed by prioritising reading, basic writing and mathematics.

The Willows Primary School. Picture: GOOGLE MAPSThe Willows Primary School. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

It said: "Pupils have responded admirably to adults' raised expectations of how they should behave. They display resilience and positivity in their learning in many classes.

"Pupils' attendance and punctuality were previously poor - there is now a robust approach."

Whilst there were gaps found in knowledge and understanding for older pupils, the report concluded these resulted "from a legacy of poor provision".

Attendance was found to have significantly increased and has now neared the national average - behaviour has improved as "pupils show respect to teachers, visitors and each other".

Mr Arch added that both pupils and parents told inspectors the school was much better than it was 18 months ago.

"I am very proud of my team and would like to thank them for all their hard work," he said.

"We appreciate the support from our parents and local community as we can only further improve the school, working together."


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