SLAMMED: Special school rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted
Samuel Laycock School in Ashton, Tameside, Image: Google Maps
A special secondary school in Tameside has been rated ‘inadequate’ with inspectors slamming the quality of education and reading.
The Samuel Laycock school in Ashton-under-Lyne was visited by Ofsted for a full inspection in the summer after it was given a ‘requires improvement’ rating in 2017.
The school has now been told it is ‘inadequate’ overall, with both the quality of education, and leadership and management highlighted as the areas of failure.
However ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’ were both rated as ‘good’, with inspectors praising the relationship between staff and pupils.
A spokesperson for the school said it would now become a sponsored academy which would ensure that ‘good progress’ to make improvements would continue.
The school on Broadoak Road teaches youngsters with moderate learning difficulties, as well as children with autism aged 11 to 17 and has around 180 pupils on its roll.
Inspectors Steve Bentham and Mark Quinn said that ‘continuing turbulence of staff’ was negatively affecting the education of children at the school.
“Pupils do not achieve well at this school. The expectations that leaders and staff set for pupils are too low,” their report stated.
“As a result, pupils do not have opportunities to achieve qualifications that are relevant for their abilities or aspirations.
“Pupils’ education has been disrupted because of significant changes in staffing and leadership.
“Recent improvements are starting to make sure that pupils get a better deal.
“That said, many pupils have considerable ground to make up. They are not well prepared for the next stage of their education, employment or training.”
The inspection team added that governors have ‘failed in their duties’ to hold leaders to account for school improvement.
“They have neglected to check on the quality of education in the school,” Ofsted said.
“For example, they have not questioned how an excessive workload for the teaching staff has resulted in high levels of staff’s absence and changes in staffing.”
The report states that the curriculum for reading is also ‘not fit for purpose’ and there is ‘no continuity’ in how pupils are taught to read.
Ofsted says there is ‘too much prescription’ about what is learned and when in key stage three, with teachers using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
The curriculum ‘lacks structure and ambition’, inspectors say.
As a consequence of the ‘inadequate’ rating, the school is not allowed to appoint newly qualified teachers before the next monitoring inspection.
However inspectors praised the ‘strong relationships’ between teachers and students that helped them develop life skills.
Their report states: “Pupils’ personal development, their behaviour and their attitudes to learning have not faltered during the recent turbulent times.
“In part, this is due the close attention that staff pay to this aspect of pupils’ needs.”
Inspectors found that pupils enjoy coming to school and feel ‘cared for and protected’, and treat other with respect.
“Staff support them well to manage their own behaviour. Pupils told inspectors that they are safe from bullying because staff intervene before issues escalate,” the report adds.
“Pupils’ independence and social skills are well developed.”
Ofsted said that the support Tameside council had put in place from the New Bridge Multi-Academy Trust was starting to ‘breathe life back into the school’ but there had not been enough time for this to make a difference to the curriculum.
A spokesperson for Samuel Laycock School said: “Following an inspection, Ofsted judged many aspects of Samuel Laycock School as ‘good’, including ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’, and ‘safeguarding’ was judged to be effective with pupils telling inspectors that they felt safe because of the care that staff provide.
“However, the ‘overall effectiveness’ of the school has been judged as ‘inadequate.’
“We understand that this will be of concern to parents and the school community and steps have been in place for some time which address the inspectors’ findings, including new additional governors and brokering the New Bridge Trust – a highly successful multi-academy trust – which has been supporting the school with improvements since January.
“The overall judgement means that the Secretary of State for Education must make an academy order and that Samuel Laycock will become a sponsored academy in the New Bridge Trust, which will ensure that the good progress already made can continue uninterrupted and ensure that the relationship with Hawthorns Primary Special School will grow stronger delivering a seamless education offer for our families.
“We will be working with Tameside council and the Department for Education closely on this process as we together strive to provide the best education for pupils. The school will be keeping parents informed of progress.”
Words: Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
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