'Serious weaknesses' at school, says Ofsted

Herald Series: Fitzharry’s School headteacher Jonathan Dennett. Picture: OX56074 Ed Nix Buy this photo » Fitzharry’s School headteacher Jonathan Dennett. Picture: OX56074 Ed Nix

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.

Related links

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.

Comments (10)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

2:53pm Wed 5 Dec 12

Myron Blatz says...

Time to re-think how OFSTED operates, and to question its role, function and value. You don't help communities, the children and their schools by demoralising those who are trying to teach and run our schools - especially at a time when education faces relentless cuts, and never-ending moving of the 'goal posts' from one government, to the next - and not simply under the Coalition. So, have our schools (especially 'academies' run along more commercial lines) just become part of an 'education factory' where 'production line inspectors' consign 'rejects' into the scrapheap, whilst only marketing those which satisy 'textbook sales targets' ......? We used to have an educational system the envy of the Western World.
Time to re-think how OFSTED operates, and to question its role, function and value. You don't help communities, the children and their schools by demoralising those who are trying to teach and run our schools - especially at a time when education faces relentless cuts, and never-ending moving of the 'goal posts' from one government, to the next - and not simply under the Coalition. So, have our schools (especially 'academies' run along more commercial lines) just become part of an 'education factory' where 'production line inspectors' consign 'rejects' into the scrapheap, whilst only marketing those which satisy 'textbook sales targets' ......? We used to have an educational system the envy of the Western World. Myron Blatz

4:16pm Wed 5 Dec 12

oldun says...

Looks can be deceptive - the Head looks zany and to actually have some personality (OK it is very hard to judge). OFSTED wants just b**l breaking bureaucrats as Heads . Political meddling (largely unheard of in the 70s) and persistent increase in paperwork has discouraged so many brilliant teachers from remaining in schools . The characters whom we enjoyed in the 70s would not last five minutes - not that they would want to. Those who bored us silly might thrive. Depressing
Looks can be deceptive - the Head looks zany and to actually have some personality (OK it is very hard to judge). OFSTED wants just b**l breaking bureaucrats as Heads . Political meddling (largely unheard of in the 70s) and persistent increase in paperwork has discouraged so many brilliant teachers from remaining in schools . The characters whom we enjoyed in the 70s would not last five minutes - not that they would want to. Those who bored us silly might thrive. Depressing oldun

7:52pm Wed 5 Dec 12

Feelingsmatter says...

Well, it looks like it's the second time a deputy head teacher has left Larkmead and gone on to trash another Abingdon secondary school. It's all very well to whinge about OFSTED, but all schoos are judged by the same means, and only a very few fail. The new head may very well look "zany", but what a school NEEDS is a strong leader.
Well, it looks like it's the second time a deputy head teacher has left Larkmead and gone on to trash another Abingdon secondary school. It's all very well to whinge about OFSTED, but all schoos are judged by the same means, and only a very few fail. The new head may very well look "zany", but what a school NEEDS is a strong leader. Feelingsmatter

8:06pm Wed 5 Dec 12

oldun says...

Yes , absolutely - but leading from the front - and able to relate well to pupils (most important) , parents (sorry clients) , colleagues - and other 'stakeholders' . Many of these 'modern day' leaders have perceived strength merely because they 'talk the talk' and are clued up on the latest 'initiatives' . I don't see 'zaniness' as a strength - kids (sorry, students) don't need that . They certainly don't need strong bureaucrats . I left the Abingdon area in 1972 and don't know the former deputy heads involved . I do know that bizarre criteria seem so often to allow mediocre teachers (faciltators) to reach very senior positions. How my Heads from the 70s and 80s would turn in their graves at what is perceived as leadership potential these days. Depressing - my grandchildren might have to suffer such 'leadership'
Yes , absolutely - but leading from the front - and able to relate well to pupils (most important) , parents (sorry clients) , colleagues - and other 'stakeholders' . Many of these 'modern day' leaders have perceived strength merely because they 'talk the talk' and are clued up on the latest 'initiatives' . I don't see 'zaniness' as a strength - kids (sorry, students) don't need that . They certainly don't need strong bureaucrats . I left the Abingdon area in 1972 and don't know the former deputy heads involved . I do know that bizarre criteria seem so often to allow mediocre teachers (faciltators) to reach very senior positions. How my Heads from the 70s and 80s would turn in their graves at what is perceived as leadership potential these days. Depressing - my grandchildren might have to suffer such 'leadership' oldun

9:06am Thu 6 Dec 12

Iain L says...

Read the report guys rather than jumping to conclusions and then writing ill-informed comments. Ofsted speak very positively about the leadership of the school in their report and talk a lot about improvements which have been made recently.

Jonathan Dennett was an excellent deputy head at Larkmead and from conversations I've had with current Fitzharrys parents is doing a good job in improving the situation at Fitzharrys.

Keep up the good work Jonathan, use the Osted report as a springboard to accelerate your plans and don't take the ill-informed comments above to heart.
Read the report guys rather than jumping to conclusions and then writing ill-informed comments. Ofsted speak very positively about the leadership of the school in their report and talk a lot about improvements which have been made recently. Jonathan Dennett was an excellent deputy head at Larkmead and from conversations I've had with current Fitzharrys parents is doing a good job in improving the situation at Fitzharrys. Keep up the good work Jonathan, use the Osted report as a springboard to accelerate your plans and don't take the ill-informed comments above to heart. Iain L

1:38pm Thu 6 Dec 12

mumofchildren says...

Actually 'feelingsmatter' Fitzharrys is the first secondary school in Abingdon to be assessed under the new Ofsted framework which came into effect in September so you are wrong to say all schools are judged by the same means. Until all schools in the area have been visited and inspected this way there can be no fair comparison. I have two children at the school who are progressing well and take great pride in going to Fitzharrys. I agree with the previous comment Mr Dennett has had a positive impact on the school and I have no doubt will continue to do so. Both John mason and Dunmore were seen as failing not long ago and now both schools are oversubscribed. I hope people will take the time to actually read the report and see the many good things that are happening in the school.
Actually 'feelingsmatter' Fitzharrys is the first secondary school in Abingdon to be assessed under the new Ofsted framework which came into effect in September so you are wrong to say all schools are judged by the same means. Until all schools in the area have been visited and inspected this way there can be no fair comparison. I have two children at the school who are progressing well and take great pride in going to Fitzharrys. I agree with the previous comment Mr Dennett has had a positive impact on the school and I have no doubt will continue to do so. Both John mason and Dunmore were seen as failing not long ago and now both schools are oversubscribed. I hope people will take the time to actually read the report and see the many good things that are happening in the school. mumofchildren

2:34am Fri 7 Dec 12

Feelingsmatter says...

Read it. Still think it's a worrying trend ..............
Read it. Still think it's a worrying trend .............. Feelingsmatter

8:20am Fri 7 Dec 12

Iain L says...

Is that an apology for what you said about Mr Dennett?
Is that an apology for what you said about Mr Dennett? Iain L

1:08pm Fri 7 Dec 12

Abingdon Neil says...

I'm not sure in what way the head 'looks zany'?!

For what it's worth our daughter chose to apply for Fitzharrys after attending all three open evenings at the Abingdon secondary schools and meeting the Heads at each.

We came away with a very positive impression of the school and were impressed with the dedication the teachers and students showed.

Personally I've never been a fan of the OFSTED approach, and have seen most local schools criticised by it to some degree over the years.
I'm not sure in what way the head 'looks zany'?! For what it's worth our daughter chose to apply for Fitzharrys after attending all three open evenings at the Abingdon secondary schools and meeting the Heads at each. We came away with a very positive impression of the school and were impressed with the dedication the teachers and students showed. Personally I've never been a fan of the OFSTED approach, and have seen most local schools criticised by it to some degree over the years. Abingdon Neil

5:28pm Mon 17 Dec 12

cb1917 says...

OFSTED = Office For Spreading Tory Educational Dogma.
With Gove 'in charge' need one say more?
OFSTED = Office For Spreading Tory Educational Dogma. With Gove 'in charge' need one say more? cb1917

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree