Corby school told it needs to improve following first ever inspection

Priors Hall: A Learning Community NNL-190329-162105005
Priors Hall: A Learning Community NNL-190329-162105005

A headteacher has reassured parents that a school is moving in the right direction after Ofsted inspectors said it required improvement.

Priors Hall: A Learning Community was opened in 2016.

Ofsted paid their first visit at the end of February this year.

Their report, released on Friday, put the school in the ‘requires improvement’ category for all areas inspected.

The school is currently in the process of leaving the Woodnewton Academy Trust (WAT) and moving to the Inspiring Futures through Learning trust which inspectors say has a ‘strong track record of rapid school improvemements’. Priors Hall is the only remaining school in the WAT, and it is expected to transfer to IFtL by the end of this academic year.

The report said that although the school was improving, it was not yet consistently good enough.

“The foundation trust has not provided effective support of resources for this expanding school. Leaders have not secured a consistently good quality of education.

“The new headteacher, incoming academy trust and governors have quickly established an accurate overview of the situation in the school.

“They have put in place plans for improvement. However, these have not yet been implemented in full.”

The Ofsted report was heavily critical of the Woodnewton Trust, saying that it had ‘not provided effective support or resources for this expanding school.’ It added: “Governors are frustrated that, despite consistent challenge and requests for support, the qualifying foundation did not respond appropriately.

“The qualifying foundation trust did not provide governors with the information and appropriate resources for them to manage the expansion and improvement of the school effectively.

“Scrutiny of governor documentation confirms this to be the case.

“There have been frequent staffing changes and appointments as the school continues to expand.

“The incoming trust took immediate action to support the school following its education review in November 2018. The headteacher and governing body have embraced the training and support that resulted from this review.

“The headteacher is determined to improve teaching and pupil outcomes.

“This is a promising start to their partnership.”

Headteacher Chris Woolhouse is the third head in the school’s three-year history. Currently, due to a phased opening, there are only pupils up to year four although the school is rapidly growing.

Mr Woolhouse has 14 years of experience as a teacher and assistant head in Kettering though this is his first headship. He said that the report is ‘not where the school wanted to be’.

He said that the school had had a ‘hard start’, with high staff turnover and a large flood which meant children had to be educated off-site for a time.

“I arrived in September and we’ve had a fresh start at the school,” he said.

“The new academy trust has made a huge difference already while they’ve been supporting the transition.

“They’ve offered us so much help.

“I think if Ofsted had visited us five or six months down the line then we would have been in a much stronger position.

“It’s been a steep learning curve but it’s been a fantastic first few months for me here.

“We have really worked hard and the extra systems we’ve been able to implement have given everyone a really clear vision.

“We’ve broken the back of the hard work.

“The school leadership team and IFtl identified the educational priorities we need here at Priors Hall very quickly and put a plan in place.

“The staff team have been so dedicated to help put the new systems in place.”

Parents of existing pupils and those whose children are due to start at the school in September are being invited in to open events to reflect on the key findings of the report tomorrow (Tuesday, April 2) at 3.30pm and 5.30pm.