‘Narrowing gap’ between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils’ achievement is helping Cromwell Community College turn a corner

Cromwell Community College

Cromwell Community College - Credit: Archant

High ambitions, target setting and careful monitoring of disadvantaged pupils is helping Cromwell Community College to turn itself around.

Cromwell Community College

Cromwell Community College - Credit: Archant

The ‘strong rate of improvement’ recognised during the school’s last visit has “continued apace”, said Ofsted inspector Prue Rayner after her follow-up visit.

The follow-up comes after the school was judged to require improvement in February 2015, due to concerns about the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.

In the latest inspection, Ms Rayner commended the school for; restructuring the responsibilities of the heads of year, appointing a member of staff to lead on improving disadvantaged pupils’ achievement, appointing a special educational needs coordinator and putting temporary cover in place for leading the sixth form.

“Leaders at all levels share ambitions for the academy to be judged at least good at its next inspection,” she said.

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“Faculty leaders have risen to the challenge of pursuing the demanding and aspirational targets that senior leaders have set for all pupils.

“With very few exceptions, all pupils are expected to make better than expected progress,” she added.

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“This ethos of high expectations is reflected in lesions, in pupils’ attitudes to their learning, in the quality of their work and in their dress and behaviour.”

Ms Rayner added that the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils is starting to narrow “as a result of more careful monitoring.

“Current checks show that both disadvantaged pupils and others are making significant improvements in the amount of progress they are making.

“More pupils are on track to achieve five A* to C grades in their GCSE examinations,” she added.

“Staff better understand the expectations of their teaching and know what to do to improve it,” she said, adding that “pupils say they benefit from the consistent and informative feedback.”

To assess and track pupils’ progress, regular meetings with faculty leaders are held to identify, and to try and find solutions for, any underperformance.

Pupils at risk of not being in school are very well supported to overcome challenges thanks to the school’s “highly inclusive approach” and “well focused extra support,” Ms Rayner added.

Among the extra support offered, older pupils support new entrants in year seven to manage the demands of secondary school. A programme of mentoring is also being implemented for pupils at risk of underachieving in year nine.

She said: “Pupils say this extra support makes a significant difference to their ability to be successful.

“Pupils agreed that they felt that leaders, teachers and other staff respected them, listened to them and worked hard to help them achieve.”

One pupil said: “They have stayed by my side and helped me solve my problems, they’ve made a massive change to my life.”

Another said: “I’ve moved from expecting a C to a B because I’m challenged. Our targets push into wanting to go above what we expected. It means we can do more than we thought we could.”

To improve further, however, Ms Rayner said more needs to be done to measure the impact of the different interventions and approaches used to support disadvantaged pupils.

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