What now for Ipswich Academy after it is slammed in Ofsted report which places it in special measures – MP Ben Gummer calls for change of sponsor unless action is taken ‘within a week’
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A major review was called for last night into Ipswich Academy after it was placed into special measures and blasted by Ofsted.
Ipswich Academy, formerly Holywells High School, has been branded as “inadequate” by Ofsted in all five areas, with teaching described as “poor” and a section of students slammed for “persistently” bunking off.
It is the second academy in Ipswich to be given the rating in just three weeks after Suffolk New Academy, the former Chantry High School, was also placed into special measures.
In September, Pamela Hutchison the executive principal of Ipswich Academy, said it was ready to make progress “without a shadow of a doubt”.
But in the latest inspection, carried out in early January, inspectors found achievement in all Key Stages was “inadequate” and students’ literacy skills were “weak”, meaning they were being “held back”. Disabled students are “poorly supported”, teachers do not all have the “necessary skills” to effectively teach and students’ attitude to learning is “inadequate” and ‘slowing’ their progress, the report added.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said if a plan of action was not produced “within a week” the academy’s sponsor, the Learning Schools Trust, should make way.
He said: “I would want to see it in the next week: evidence put before parents on how the academy will improve for pupils. I know that they have been in conversation with the Department for Education so a plan needs to be produced, if not someone else should come in and do it.”
A joint statement from the academy and the trust said the Ofsted judgement was “inevitable” after poor exam results. Last summer four in every five students at the academy, which had its £16million new building opened by the then-education secretary, Michael Gove in 2013, failed to score at least five C grades including English and maths in their GCSEs.
The academy’s statement focuses on the two positive aspects found by inspectors. The report said there were 15 aspects which meant it needed to be in special measures.
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“We are pleased to see that the inspectors recognise that the recent changes in leadership are establishing a clear way forward for the school,” the statement said.
“They comment that ‘governors have high aspirations…and articulate this clearly’ and that ‘since September 2014 they have been challenging senior leaders more effectively.’”
“The impact of the new principal and her team is also evident ‘the new executive principal has, in the short time she has been at the academy, improved systems for accountability and monitoring. She has ensured some of the right actions are now in place to bring about whole-school improvement’.”
Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The school needs to have a new sponsor or the local authority should take it back, but I do not think the government would allow it.
A new sponsor would need to talk to trade unions, teachers, parents and pupils about where it needs to go and the appropriate curriculum it will provide.
“Mr Gummer said schools need time with their academy sponsors to show improvement but how many years before there is success and we need to look for another sponsor or for it to be in the hands of the local authority?”
The academy is for children aged between 11-18 and has around 840 students.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “Acting decisively on under performance is a key part of our plan for education. As a result of this, our schools have been transformed with one million more children now being taught in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.
“Ipswich Academy has been placed in special measures – and clearly that is not good enough.
“We are in discussion with those currently responsible for running the school to make sure they are working to drive up standards across the school.”
Ipswich Academy and its sponsor, the Learning Schools Trust’s response in full:
“The special measures judgment is disappointing but inevitable given the poor results last summer.
“We are pleased to see that the inspectors recognise that the recent changes in leadership are establishing a clear way forward for the school. They comment that ‘governors have high aspirations…and articulate this clearly’ and that ‘since September 2014 they have been challenging senior leaders more effectively’.
“The impact of the new principal and her team is also evident ‘the new executive principal has, in the short time she has been at the academy, improved systems for accountability and monitoring. She has ensured some of the right actions are now in place to bring about whole-school improvement’.
“We are delighted that the inspectors recognise the great improvement in behaviour since the last Ofsted monitoring visit. They commented on student conduct around the building and their pride in the new building.
“Students have responded well to the higher standards that we now expect and the report notes that there has been a reduction in the number of behaviour related incidents.
“We are also pleased that the inspection found that students were safe and secure and that teachers and teachers have good working relationship.
“Ofsted have recommended that we carry out a review of Governance at the Academy and we are working with the Department for Education and Suffolk County Council to put the right systems to support the Academy to build on the recent gains.
“While that is underway, Learning Schools Trust, the leadership and staff of the Academy will continue improving the areas identified by recent inspections to give our students the best possible outcomes this year.”