The headteacher of a Wisbech school has insisted it is on the road to improvement – despite being judged as ‘inadequate’ by education inspectors.
Ofsted has given the Thomas Clarkson Academy (TCA) its lowest possible rating after its latest inspection found the school required “significant improvement”.
The watchdog found the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and pupil outcomes, fell below the required standard, although the effectiveness of leadership and management, pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare and its age 16-19 study programme were considered satisfactory.
Lead inspector, John Mitcheson, said until recently there has not been enough capacity for leaders to drive and sustain much-needed improvement due to “significant challenges” faced by the school due to its rural location and local economy.
His report, published last week, said the school’s overall growth, with more pupils joining sporadically throughout the academic year with little or no English, and a higher proportion of pupils from disadvantaged families, have all placed “further demands” on the school as it strives to improve.
Difficulties in attracting new staff, amid a national teacher recruitment problem, have also hampered leaders’ efforts to improve teaching and raise pupil achievement.
TCA principal Clare Claxton said: “We are disappointed at the Ofsted assessment as staff have worked extremely hard to ensure our students are given a good education.
“We acknowledge that we need to do better and for many months have been putting in place a whole series of measures to target the issues.
“We have a large number of students who are high achievers and now we want to make sure that this is the norm.”
To combat the teacher recruitment problem, the Brooke Weston Trust (BWT), which runs the school, is developing programmes to try to entice more experienced teachers to the area.
And to further strengthen teaching standards, the trust has drafted in experienced staff from the ‘outstanding’ Brooke Weston Academy in Northamptonshire into the TCA to ensure rapid improvements are now made.