School shows improvement

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A FAILING school is starting to make progress with the help of a specialised headteacher.

Washington School was placed in special measures by Ofsted inspectors 12 months ago.

It was slapped with a huge list of areas to improve, including teaching impacts, lessons, behaviour, management and leadership.

After a monitoring visit earlier this year found the Spout Lane school was making inadequate improvement, John Hallworth, headteacher at Thornhill School of Business and Enterprise, was drafted in as executive headteacher to help turn it around.

Now, following the most recent visit, Ofsted inspectors say the new £19million school, which was officially opened by the Queen, is making satisfactory progress.

Original problems at the school included wide-scale staff absence, unacceptable teaching overall, low attendance rates, high numbers of pupil exclusions and disruptive behaviour.

Following the latest visit, inspectors said that although the school still has a higher than average rate of staff absence, five long-term absentees have returned to work.

Also, two new parent governors and one member of staff have joined the governing body.

Inspectors said: “The students’ attainment and their overall achievement are improving slowly.

“The latest school-generated data indicate the school will make some modest but important improvements on the 2010 results, especially in increasing the percentage of students gaining five or more good GCSEs, including English and mathematics.

“The progress of students in lessons is better now than at the time of the previous monitoring inspection. This is the result of two targeted actions.

“First, there are now generally-improved standards of behaviour, which means that many more students than previously seen have a more positive attitude to their learning.

“Second, there is a more consistent quality of satisfactory or better teaching across the school.”

Inspectors said the improved behaviour of students has made a significant contribution to the 50 per cent reduction in exclusions over the past year, and the quality of teaching is also improving.

They said the effectiveness in tackling weaknesses in leadership and management is also beginning to gain momentum.

Inspectors said: “There are plans for proposed changes to the overall structure of senior leaders and managers, with redefined roles and responsibilities, which are well advanced and have been formally approved by the governing body.

“Previous ambiguity in management roles and insufficient accountability are now being addressed.

“Middle managers are also beginning to develop a more robust approach to assessing the quality of the teaching in terms of its impact on students’ attainment, progress and behaviour in lessons.”