See full Ofsted report and letter to parents as Felixstowe Academy is placed in special measures

Felixstowe Academy. Picture: PETER A COOK/FELIXSTOWE ACADEMY

Felixstowe Academy. Picture: PETER A COOK/FELIXSTOWE ACADEMY - Credit: Peter A Cook/Felixstowe Academy

Bullying is “brushed under the carpet” and has become part of Felixstowe Academy’s culture, the Ofsted inspection report which has placed the school in special measures claims. The Ofsted report has been published today. See the full report here.

Some parents and pupils have “lost faith” in the ability of senior management to tackle bullying which has led to fewer reported incidents, the education watchdog said. This is disputed by school chiefs who claim a much wider survey revealed high levels of confidence in bullying being tackled. They also insist results will improve this summer to help improve the school’s rating.

This newspaper revealed earlier this month that the 1,221-pupil academy has been rated ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures after an Ofsted inspection in November.

Lead inspector Daniel Gee wrote: “There has been a culture of bullying at the school which has not been dealt with effectively. Some pupils do not feel safe at school and do not report issues to adults. Too many parents who responded to Parent View have lost faith in the school’s ability to deal effectively with issues of bullying.”

It added: “Pupils (say) bullying is widespread... pupils’ comments included ‘Sometimes I am so scared that I cannot go to school’. Comments from parents include ‘bullying is not taken seriously and is brushed under the carpet’ (and) ‘the way the school deals with bullying is appalling’.

“Leaders have not ensured that their systems are effective at tackling bullying. There is no systematic follow-up monitoring of the wellbeing of victims of bullying to check that situations have improved. Some pupils say that they do not report incidents of bullying because they have lost faith in the school’s ability to deal with it. Leaders acknowledge that systems need to improve.”

Poor GCSE results were also behind the rating. Just 48% passed English and maths in 2017. But management reforms, the return of senior leaders, tackling weak teaching, and robust systems have led to improvements, Ofsted said.

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Letter to parents - John King OBE, Chair of the Governing Board

The report makes quite a number of positive statements about the school, including:

- Teaching and Learning is improving.

- Our Sixth Form provision is good;.

- Underperformance is robustly challenged.

- Many pupils work hard, respect their teachers and take their learning seriously. They are friendly and courteous and are excellent ambassadors for the school.

We are disappointed that in spite of these positive statements, Ofsted found that over time, the Academy has not made rapid enough progress, and has rated the school as ‘Inadequate’. Both I and AET feel this judgement does not take full account of the many changes that have been put in place over the past year, and which are beginning to drive real improvement at the Academy. Although some of these actions are mentioned in Ofsted’s report, and are already having an impact, their full effect will need some time to build. Since Ofsted visited us, further green shoots are apparent, with our Year 11 mock exams showing a significant rise in progress and attainment, suggesting our results this summer will show a considerable improvement on 2017.

Furthermore, the Academy has already taken significant action particularly around safeguarding, which is always one of our chief priorities. Indeed the latest, much wider survey showed a positive picture, with 88% of students aware of what they need to do if they believe someone is being bullied, and in a recent parent survey 91% of parents felt that their child is safe at the Academy, 82% felt that bullying is dealt with effectively and 91% would recommend the Academy.

However, I want to assure you that we do of course accept that Felixstowe Academy still has a long way to go. We have taken on board all of Ofsted’s findings and have developed a rigorous action plan to address the issues they highlight. We fully accept that over time, Felixstowe Academy has not made sufficient progress, and we will be redoubling our efforts to bring about continued improvements as we work to create an Academy of which the students, their families and the whole community can be proud.

I would like to invite you to a meeting at the Academy on Wednesday 21 February at 5.00pm where members of the Senior Leadership of the Academy will be happy to outline what we have been doing to address each of the areas for improvement identified in the report. We will also be very happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.