Rushden school given inadequate rating by Ofsted

Inspectors have said Rushden Academy is inadequate
Inspectors have said Rushden Academy is inadequate

A trust has said staff restructuring and a new curriculum will help improve a school after Ofsted rated it as inadequate.

Inspectors visited Rushden Academy in July and have today (Tuesday) published their findings, rating the school as inadequate in four out of five areas: these areas are effectiveness of leadership and management, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, personal development, behaviour and welfare; and outcomes for pupils.

The only area the school fared better was 16 to 19 study programmes, in which it was rated good.

Inadequate is the lowest rating a school can get, and is lower than the school’s previous rating of requires improvement.

Inspectors said successive cohorts of pupils have underachieved at this school, the school continues to be affected negatively by leadership and staffing changes, and outcomes for pupils remain well below national averages at Key Stage 4.

They also said leaders have not acted swiftly enough to halt the decline in pupils’ achievement since the previous inspection, and while outcomes in English and science are now improving, pupils continue to underachieve in mathematics.

However, they also highlighted strengths, including the principal bringing stability and a determination to improve standards since his appointment, the changes he has made are starting to bring about some improvements, the sixth form is good, and improved routines and staff supervision have led to better behaviour at break and lunchtime.

Following the report, Lizzie Rowe, chief operating officer for The Education Fellowship which runs the school, said: “The Education Fellowship is pleased Ofsted inspectors reported positively on the huge amount of work taking place at Rushden Academy, and at great speed, to build on the wide-ranging improvements made during the last academic year under the direction of a principal appointed in September 2015 who brought ‘stability and a determination to improve standards’.

“Inspectors recognised what new leaders have achieved and we feel confident the tide is turning at Rushden Academy.

“We are of course fully aware there is much more to do – and it will be done - to ensure that improvements continue to be delivered swiftly and pupil outcomes climb rapidly for all our students.

“Inspectors saw that the trust made ‘difficult but necessary changes to leadership that are now leading to improvements’.

“The appointment of the principal was ‘a turning point for the school’ and ‘the trust has provided effective support to the principal through a difficult and turbulent time’.

“He introduced radical changes and with it much-needed ‘stability and positivity’.

“There is a clear strategic vision for the future direction of the school and detailed plans for its improvement.

“There has been a restructuring of the senior leadership team, difficult decisions made regarding staff that have resulted in significant numbers of teachers leaving the school – and, for the first time in some years, the school is almost fully staffed at the start of this new academic year.

“Middle leaders are positive and motivated and have enhanced their understanding of their role in improving the school.

“Already outcomes in English and Science are improving.

“There is a new curriculum and Rushden’s provision for pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities has improved.

“They reported that the sixth form is good with ‘consistently good teaching on post-16 courses leading to ‘high levels of engagement’.

“There have also been ‘significant improvements’ to the school site in the past year.

“The arrangements for safeguarding are ‘effective’ and improved routines and staff supervision have led to better behaviour at break and lunchtime.

“Importantly, Ofsted reports that ‘staff, parents and pupils have confidence in the current leadership to bring about the necessary changes because they can see the improvements that are now being made’.

“We expect our next visit from Ofsted before Christmas.

“They will see an extremely strong drive on standards and expectations by an expanded and experienced leadership team, determined to make the school good in the shortest possible time.”

To read the report in full, click here