School is on the up

Tour of new buildings at Neale-Wade with Principal Jason Wing
Tour of new buildings at Neale-Wade with Principal Jason Wing

MARCH Neale-Wade Community College is on the right track to raising standards according to a new report by government inspectors’ published this week.

The school, which was put into special measures following a damning report earlier this year, under-went a special measures monitoring inspection last month.

In a covering letter to Principal Jason Wing, Inspector Elaine Taylor said: “Having considered all the evidence I am of the opinion that at this time the school is making reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures.”

During the two-day visit the team of three observed the school’s work, scrutinised documents and met with an array of representatives with the focus on behaviour, teaching and learning and the senior leadership of the school.

Teaching, which was branded as poor and inadequate following the inspection in March, was found to be improving although there are still pockets of inadequate teaching.

But inspectors recognised that “inadequate teaching is being tackled with determination” and that “good practice is being shared through the school’s new teaching and learning ‘communities’.”

The report recognised that the headteacher and his senior team has created a ‘can-do’ culture in the school and staff morale is good.

It went on to say: “Senior leaders have an accurate understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses. Regular lesson observations take place, including daily learning walks by senior leaders. Where weaker aspects of practice are identified, teachers are guided towards appropriate training and their attendance is checked.

“Expectations have been raised regarding the quality of marking, the setting of relevant homework and the use of data to set challenging targets for students. It is too soon to see the full impact of this work.”

The inspectors found attendance is now above average, and better than in the same week last year. Exclusions have fallen dramatically and this has been put down to a “more consistently applied behaviour policy, which the students helped to formulate.”

Inspectors found the school had a “positive and calm atmosphere” and relationships in lessons are “good and no disruption was observed during the inspection”.

The report stated: “Students confirmed these findings and some, whose behaviour had previously been disruptive, reported very effective support to get back on track to achieving success. The climate for learning has improved.

“Where sanctions are necessary, students are moved to a specialist area of the school, where effective work is undertaken to help them alter their behaviour and reintegrate into lessons. The instances of students being sent out of lessons have also reduced.”

Standards at GCSE and A-level have risen and are now closer to the national average - with the exception of maths.

However, it did recognise some issues including: “In a small number of lessons, students do not to make enough progress because the teaching fails to enthuse and engage them fully.”

There was also some criticism on literacy. The report stated: “Across the curriculum, too little attention is give to developing literacy and improving reading during lessons. Some effective one-to-one tuition for reading was observed, but in some subjects lessons are planned with a heavy reliance on text and little support for those who find reading difficult.”

Work is on-going with the school’s sponsor ready for it to become an academy in April next year.

Principal Jason Wing said: “I am pleased with findings of the monitoring visit particularly the comments regarding the improvement in behaviour. Whilst I recognise that we have made strides in the right direction there is still much work to be done if we are to be a ‘good’ and then ‘outstanding’ school against the Ofsted criteria. The recent improvements are down to the collective efforts of our students, staff and parents.”