Pupils from poor or troubled families have ‘no excuses’ for bad results, says headteacher of Murrayfield Community Primary School in Ipswich

Murrayfield Primary School

Murrayfield Primary School - Credit: Gregg Brown

Children from poor or troubled families have “no excuses” for failing at school, an Ipswich headteacher has said.

Andrew Livingstone, the interim executive headteacher credited with turning around Murrayfield Community Primary School believes youngsters from any background who want to succeed “will find a way”.

The Ipswich school was ranked inadequate and placed in special measures last September just weeks after Mr Livingstone was appointed but an Ofsted monitoring inspection report of the school has just ruled that senior leaders are now taking effective action towards removing special measures.

In the second of two key judgements, the education watchdog said the school’s improvement plan is fit for purpose.

Mr Livingstone, who has a track record in transforming under-performing schools, is set to become the school’s permanent headteacher this week. It will be his third such position.

Asked for the reasons behind his success, he said: “Working hard, being committed and having a good vision – and a no excuse culture. We have no excuses in this school now. Every child, regardless of their background, has the opportunity in my school to thrive.

“Regardless of what goes on in their home life or their deprivation indicators; those are all excuses.

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“We have children in this school for over 25 hours a week. We have a blank canvass here to work with children. The more we put in for these children, the more we will get out of them.

“If you have got aspiration to do really well, you will find a way. That’s what I’m trying to build in to these students. It’s not just about their reading, writing and maths scores. It’s actually about building those aspirations for the future – raising aspirations in primary school as to what they want to do as a career and setting that ambition really early, so every child in my school could believe that they could go to university. There are no limits for what they believe they can achieve.

“I believe if a child wants something, and works hard enough, they can achieve it. I come from that background. It is about the chances you are given and if you take them.

“And if students don’t have facilities at home, they can go to their local library for example. There is so much out there.”

Ofsted’s monitoring report of the school in Nacton Road, attended by 392 studen.ts, revealed eight teachers left at Easter, but all have been replaced.

That came after all but one of the governors resigned last November. An interim executive board has since been installed.

The new report said: “Leaders are intolerant of inadequate, ineffective teaching. In equal measures, staff are supported and held to account for the progress that pupils are making.

“Teaching is gradually improving but remains variable and, in some cases, fragile.

“Even so, a secure baseline has been secured of what every pupil knows and can do.”

Mr Livingstone said: “The judgement is the best we can get at this stage and taking effective action towards the removal of special measures is a major milestone in the school’s transition.

“We have had a really turbulent time but the school is now moving forward really strongly.”