Ofsted tell Ely College to freeze recruitment of newly qualified teachers as inspection concludes improvement plan ‘not fit for purpose’

Ely College. Picture: Steve Williams.

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

Ely College – with vacancies in its maths, science, psychology, history and foreign languages departments- has been advised by Ofsted to freeze recruitment of newly qualified teachers.

The recommendation follows the latest Ofsted inspection which says the school’s improvement plan “is not fit for purpose”.

The comment came in a letter from Ofsted inspector Tom Paul Tomkow and follows a two day visit to the college on October 6 and 7 that concluded “the academy is not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures”.

Although accepting the academy sponsors now have a “statement of action” that is fit for purpose, Ofsted is critical of the improvements under way.

Principal Evelyn Forde, appointed earlier this year after the college was placed in special measures, believes that “turning a school around takes a lot of effort and is not a quick or simple process.

“Of course I would like to have been able to do more in the short space of time since taking up post, but I am proud of the fact we have begun to make significant improvements.”

She said: “Raising standards, improving the quality of teaching and learning and of leadership and management at all levels are key priorities and will continue to be so.

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“Recently we had a successful recruitment drive and with support from the trust have appointed seven new excellent teachers who will take up posts next term.

“We will continue to work through the recommendations outlined in the school’s statement of action with a robust, relentless focus on teaching and learning.”

The latest inspection team looked at 29 lessons and concluded that “many of the weaknesses in teaching that were identified at the inspection in March 2015 remain”.

It concludes: “There is currently not enough teaching of good or better quality to raise standards rapidly enough. In most of the lessons seen during this inspection, students’ progress was too slow.”

Since the previous inspection, 12 teachers have left the academy and four new teachers have been appointed. There are 10 teaching posts being advertised which are currently filled by temporary appointments.

Ofsted says achievement remains inadequate and performance at A level this year “was again weak and the proportion of students achieving five or more A* to C grades at GCSE, including maths and English, decreased further and remains below the government’s floor standards”.

Ofsted also reported that:

•Literacy levels are too low

•Teachers do not do enough to support literacy skills

•Reading levels are not been systematically checked

•Not enough is being done to narrow gaps between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students – in fact the gap is widening

•There are significant weaknesses in the performance of boys, disabled students and those with special educational needs

•In some lessons teachers’ weak subject knowledge impede progress

•Expectations across the academy are too low – maths for example lack “challenge”

•Feedback from teachers to students is poor- basic grammar and punctuation often goes unchecked

•Inspectors found few examples of students showing pride in their work – with art being an exception where work is of a high quality

•Leaders and governors do not have an accurate and informed understanding of the quality of teaching, learning and assessment

•Not enough has been done to tackle poor teaching

•A new system brought in to set targets for students’ progress and attainment is not fit for purpose

•No coherent plan exists for effective use of increased pupil premium funding

Academy sponsors the CfBT Schools Trust has not been effective in supporting the leadership or development of teaching and learning

CfBT has failed to halt the decline in standards seen over the past two years

Ofsted added: “The statement of action has been improved and now contains milestones which enable academy leaders and governors to review the impact of actions taken.

“However the academy failed to meet any of the student achievement targets that have been set for the last academic year. The targets that have been set for the current school year will not be achieved unless senior leaders are able to rapidly secure significant improvements to the quality of teaching and learning across the academy”.