End of ‘zero tolerance’ at Ely College brings praise as numbers sent out of class drops but Ofsted still concerned over ‘lack of action plan’

Ely College. Picture: Steve Williams.

Ely College. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

The new head of Ely College has been praised by Ofsted for reducing the number of pupils sent out of class for bad behaviour.

Evelyn Forde has taken charge at Ely College.

Evelyn Forde has taken charge at Ely College. - Credit: Archant

It has been revealed that Ofsted carried out an interim inspection of the college on May 7 following the appointment a month earlier of Evelyn Forde as principal.

Ms Forde replaced Catherine Jenkinson-Dix who had resigned, along with two vice principals and the governing body, in March after the school had been placed in special measures.

Ofsted inspector Paul Tomkow felt the new head shares the concerns expressed earlier about the amount of teaching time that is being lost when students are removed from class following incidents of poor behaviour.

“Procedures for dealing with such incidents have been reviewed and improved; systems are now in place to monitor behaviour that lead to students being removed from class,” said Mr Tomkow.

“Records show that the number of students being sent out of the class has reduced this term. During this inspection, students’ conduct, in classrooms and around academy, was exemplary.”

Ofsted also says other areas for improvement, arising from the inspection, have been addressed in a “combined statement of action and academy improvement plan”.

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But he said there remained concerns about the reliability of the academy’s assessment data.

“This plan is not yet fit for purpose as it does not provide sufficient detail about how the planned actions will improve pupils’ achievement,” he said. “Nor does it provide other clear measures in order to enable academy leaders to establish whether or not actions have been successful.”

He concluded that neither the college nor CfBT, the academy group that runs the school, have an action plan fit for purpose.

But Mr Tomkow did praise better communication with parents which had led to a series of meetings being held. Issues identified with pupil safeguarding had also been addressed “as a matter of urgency”.

Mr Tomkow told Ms Forde: “You have wasted no time in working with other school leaders to identify the actions that are required to improve outcomes for students.

“You have prioritised the need to simplify systems for checking on the quality of teaching and learning and ensuring that all members of staff understand their role in raising standards at the academy.”

Ofsted said it was evident CfBT had increased the support it provides to the academy. It had recently commissioned reviews of mathematics and safeguarding.

“This has helped academy leaders to gain an understanding of some of the academy’s strengths and weaknesses in these key areas,” he said.

The governing body has recently been replaced by a rapid improvement board but at the time of the inspector’s visit had not yet met.

“Consequently, the review of governance and the academy’s use of the pupil premium, which were recommended at the last inspection, have not yet taken place,” said Mr Tomkow.

Ely College, which has nearly 1,300 pupils, is run by CfBT Trust, which oversees 19 academies and free schools.