Improvement plan ‘fit for purposes’ says Ofsted after reacting positively to changes at Thomas Clarkson Academy, Wisbech

Thomas Clarkson Academy, Wisbech. Picture: Steve Williams.

Thomas Clarkson Academy, Wisbech. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

An external review of teaching and learning at Thomas Clarkson Academy (TCA) carried out during the summer has helped to win acknowledgement from Ofsted that the school can improve under its new principal.

Ofsted inspector Paul Tomkow re-visited the Wisbech school last month to check progress following the “serious weaknesses” identified during a full inspection in March.

Mr Tomkow said he felt the TCA now had an improvement plan and a statement of action that were both “fit for purpose”.

He visited the school on September 20 and met the new principal, Anne Hill, teachers, pupils and the chairman of the governing body.

“There have been a number of significant changes since the previous inspection,” he said.

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These included the departure of 15 teachers at the end of last term, the recruitment of eight new teachers and further changes following the departure this month of two vice-principals.

He said: “Despite the significant changes, school leaders have ensured that there has been a strong and affective focus on improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment.

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“The evidence seen during this inspection indicates that the actions that have been taken are having a positive impact on standards across the school.”

Mr Tomkow said that since the previous inspection regular monitoring of lessons has been strengthened and scrutiny of pupils’ work was observation of teaching were now features of a typical day.

During the summer the external review had helped to identify those teachers “whose practice has been judged to be less good. Training and supporting were provided during the summer term and this has continued into this school year.”

He said the TCA was also now making use of the Octavia Alternative Provision Academy in Wisbech which accepts pupils with behavioural issues.

He said improvement plans for the TCA includes showing clear responsibility for staff and includes “ambitious timescales and is linked well the trust’s statement of action.”

Mr Tomkow was confident the school was taking “effective action towards the removal of the serious weaknesses designation”.

He said GSCE performances this year had “improved significantly” with the percentage of those achieving A* to C in English up from 37 per cent in 2015 to 57 per cent and maths up from 44 per cent to 48 per cent.

Outgoing principal Clare Claxton, removed by college sponsors the Brooke Weston Trust, said earlier the GCSE results “exceeded my expectations and I am delighted”,

But she also added: “These are really good results but would I look people in the eye as say it is good enough? No, we have got to get better.”

After news of Ms Claxton’s removal spread around the academy, more than 1,000 students signed a petition calling for her re-instatement.

That was followed by teaching representatives who issued a statement saying more than three quarters of them signed a petition in school on a single day asking Brooke Weston Trust (BWT) to reconsider their decision to replace Ms Claxton.

A teachers’ statement said: “Ms Claxton is regarded as an exemplary role model to both staff and students.

“She has successfully implemented many improvements at the school during her tenure.

“Staff believes that replacing her is unfair and will have a detrimental effect on the progress of students and the academy.”

BWT chief executive Andrew Campbell said: “Thomas Clarkson Academy has improved in many ways over the last few years and that is testament to the leadership of Ms Claxton as well as the hard work of staff and students who are rightly proud of the strides the school has made.”

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