May 25 2013 Latest news:
Story by: ROB SETCHELL, Reporter
Friday, May 11, 2012
FAILING Neale-Wade Community College has been placed in special measures by government inspectors - but Principal Jason Wing has vowed to turn it around.
March’s Ofsted inspection found Fenland’s largest secondary school to be inadequate and “failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education”.
The students’ achievement and the quality of teaching were branded unsatisfactory, with examination results “inconsistent” and teachers’ marking, planning and homework “not good enough”.
There is too much misbehaviour with a high number of exclusions, and there are “deep-rooted long-term weaknesses in leadership and management that require significant action”.
But inspectors said Mr Wing, who took the reins from Tim Hitch in September, was regarded as a “breath of fresh air” by some staff.
He was found to have a “determined, principled ambition for the school” and the former Olympian attributed much of the damning report to a “hangover from the previous regime.”
Mr Wing said: “Without holidays I’ve had 24 weeks in charge before the Ofsted inspection. It’s very hard to turn a school around in that time - it’s like trying to turn a tank around.”
Neale-Wade’s progress will be regularly monitored by Ofsted over the next two years, and a plan to haul the school out of special measures has already been drawn up.
The report says GCSE and A-level grades must rise and the quality of teaching needs to improve by “implementing a rigorous programme of observation and monitoring that takes full account of every aspect of classroom provision.”
Mr Wing said his plan was to transform Neale-Wade and put it among the top 25 per cent of schools in the country.
“Nothing has changed,” he said. “I’ve still got the same job to do, I’ve just got to do it under the special measures banner.
“They are realistic targets. It is going to be hard but I want this to be an outstanding school.
“I’ve always said I’m very competitive. When I played sport in March I didn’t want to judge myself against people in the town, district or county. I wanted to compare myself to the best in the country.
“That was what I did in sport and it makes sense to match our school against those standards. I like a challenge and I will always take it on.
“Other schools have gone from special measures to outstanding in two years. That’s the aim.
“We’ve already done the planning and now we’ve just got to deliver.”
INSPECTOR Mark Phillips rated Neale-Wade inadequate in all four categories - achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management.
GCSE results plummeted in 2011, placing Neale-Wade in the bottom one per cent of the country’s schools for the value added to students’ attainment since Year 7.
The achievement of sixth form students was found to be inadequate, with A-level passes “well below national averages for three years”. Disabled students’ progress was also unsatisfactory.
Inspectors reported a “captivating” history lesson which left students “animated, enthused and motivated” - but added that “such lessons are not the norm”.
The report said too many lessons were of poor quality, there was insufficient work in exercise books and a lack of regular homework.
Inspectors were “treated with courtesy and good humour by many students” but the report said “records revealed a very high number of exclusions and seclusions for a variety of misdemeanours including physical and verbal intimidation.
“It is clear that some patterns of behaviour are deeply entrenched, from long before the current head teacher’s appointment, because pupils’ moral and social development is not good enough.”
Inspectors heard “overwhelming praise for the principled” leadership of Mr Wing and said management concerns stretched back to before his appointment.
Staff said Mr Wing had “started to address issues that had been ignored by senior management for some time.”
The report added that “the governing body has not held the school sufficiently to account for the poor outcomes of students, particularly in the sixth form and in behaviour.”
AMBITIOUS principal Jason Wing said he has made 33 changes at Neale-Wade since September.
He has observed nearly all the teaching staff in lessons and issued under-performing teachers with “capability proceedings”.
Mr Wing said: “Since the Ofsted inspection we have issued the kids with new books. We’ve got a new marking policy and we do book trawls every day where I walk around the school, sit down with kids and look at their books.”
The principal said the £25million Building Schools for the Future renovation work had contributed to some of the behaviour problems - and the report stated the building work had created some difficulties.
Wing said: “With the building work we have to send children around the school, they can’t just walk through the corridors. You can’t police some of that behaviour outside.
“They will run around and stamp in puddles and do things normal kids do. The inspector picked up on that.
“From September, I’ve started a new behaviour system with two members of senior staff on call with radios checking on behaviour incidents.
“We’ve got high incidents of exclusion but that is because when I arrived children thought they could make inappropriate comments to staff and get away with it.
“I said if you do that, you will be excluded and so we had massive exclusions at first, but we’ve hardly had any in the last two months.”
Mr Wing has also scrapped “vertical form periods” which saw older students in the same form group as much younger pupils.
The principal added that the school had made “big strides” in attendance levels, exceeding their target.
LETTER TO PARENTS
STUDENTS have received a letter from Ofsted insisting all the school’s members will need to pull together to get out of special measures.
It said: “You and your parents and carers told us that they welcomed the new approach that Mr Wing has brought, as your new head teacher. We agree that he has a strong determination and good ambition for your school.
“However, he will not be able to turn things around by himself; it will be a team effort involving every member of staff, every parent and carer, and every student.”
Mr Wing added: “I think parents will be disappointed, they will feel a bit let down, but this is the push that we needed to move us on.”