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'Serious weaknesses' at school, says Ofsted
AN OXFORDSHIRE secondary school has been told it has “serious weaknesses” after it was judged inadequate by school inspectors.
Fitzharry’s School, in Northcourt Road, Abingdon, was put in the new Ofsted category of serious weaknesses after pupils’ achievement was deemed inadequate.
That is despite the fact the school was told many lessons were good and some outstanding.
Headteacher Jonathan Dennett said it was frustrating the school had been told teaching had improved since its 2010 Ofsted inspection when it was rated good, but it was still given a lower ‘requires improvement’ judgement for teaching.
He said: “We have got clear direction and a strong sense of what needs to be done.
“The school results had been improving year on year but results at GCSE 2012 took a real hit, as they did locally and nationally.
“Because of that, we were expecting the achievement judgement to be what it is, but it will be a real surprise to our parents and the wider community.”
Maths in particular was singled out, with results described as “significantly below” the national average.
The proportion of students making expected progress was well below average and achievement of boys in the subject described as inadequate.
A new head of maths has been appointed and a new maths team, while Mr Dennett said the school had also invested in resources.
The school was told to increase the proportion of good and outstanding lessons, increase the rate of progress, particularly in maths, and improve middle leadership within the school. But inspector Peter Limm said: “The headteacher and senior leaders know the strengths and weaknesses of the school well and are clear about how the school can improve.”
Mr Dennett said parents should look beyond the headline judgement and read the report in full.
He said: “This is a school which has many strengths and is heading in the right direction.
“We are not happy the school is labelled in that way, but we are happy the hundreds of people who come and see the school know what we are really like.
“We don’t see ourselves as an inadequate school and I don’t think the main report suggests that.”
Schools with serious weaknesses will face regular monitoring visits and are expected to be in that category for no more than about 18 months.
Mr Dennett said he hoped the school would have made significant improvements much more quickly.
Lynn Fathers, chairman of governors, said: “The overall judgement confirms our own self-assessments and reflects the shared disappointment that, despite some individually outstanding performances, the results of 2012 overall did not meet expectations.
“However, Ofsted recognise that we have capacity to improve and this confirms our own view that, in combination with the strong support provided by parents and the hard work of students, we have the right management and staff team to continue Fitzharry’s positive progress.”
This year 42 per cent of pupils achieved five A* to C grades at GCSE including English and maths. Last year 53 per cent achieved the benchmark.
Results were affected by the controversy over English marking, but were still below national averages.
Parents are invited to an open meeting where they will be able to ask questions about the school’s performance tomorrow at 6.30pm.