Long-established Hucknall school ‘failing’ pupils

Annie Holgate Junior School, Hucknall
Annie Holgate Junior School, Hucknall

A SHOCK report by government inspectors has disclosed that one of Hucknall’s longest-established schools is failing its pupils.

Annie Holgate Junior School has been heavily criticised by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED).

Inspectors say the school, on High Leys Road, isn’t providing an “acceptable standard of education”.

It goes on to criticise the leaders, managers and governors as unable to “demonstrate the capacity to secure the necessary improvement”.

The school has now suffered the indignity of being placed in ‘Special Measures’ and has been tasked with tackling its problems or facing further sanctions.

If improvement is not made, then those in charge could ultimately be sacked and governors axed.

The head teacher of the school is Rose Jones, who has been at the helm since September 2008 — a period in which attainment in maths and English has fallen significantly.

She had to face parents last week during an open meeting to discuss the inspection. The Dispatch understands that tempers became frayed.

Inspectors say Mrs Jones is clear on the weaknesses of the school but has “too much to do”.

But despite the disappointment surrounding the criticism, she remains confident that she can turn Annie Holgate around.

Mrs Jones says she is pleased the report identified some positives since the previous inspection in May 2008 when Annie Holgate was said to be providing a “satisfactory and improving education”.

She also highlighted that the report recognised the leadership of the school had correctly identified the areas for change.

However she acknowledged that progress towards tackling the school’s weaknesses had been too slow.

“There is some hard work ahead of us,” said Mrs Jones in a statement to the Dispatch.

“But we are all keen to address the areas needing improvement as quickly as possible. Together, with the support of the local authority, the school will be consistently good throughout as quickly as possible.”

In a letter to parents, Mrs Jones added there was now a “clear mandate for improvement” and steps were already being taken towards a brighter future.

In compiling the report, OFSTED inspectors visited the 201-pupil school on Tuesday November 30 and Tuesday December 7 last year. They observed 22 lessons and ten teachers.

They said that the best lessons were well-planned and created a buzz among the children. But too much of the teaching was inadequate.

It adds: “Governance is unsatisfactory, despite governors being very committed and supportive, because they do not sufficiently challenge the school’s leadership about the school’s outcomes.”

The school’s self-evaluation was labelled “overgenerous” after it gauged its capacity to improve as good.

Inspectors say school leaders had not addressed the decline in pupils’ progress over the last two years “with sufficient urgency”.

Subjects such as music, history and geography were neglected and physical education, which was taught by an outside partner, was not monitored for its effectiveness.

On the positive side, behaviour was satisfactory, staff had strong relationships with pupils and parents felt well-supported.

The report says the school has strengthened its procedures for protecting youngsters. It had improved its partnerships with other schools and had strong links with the community.

Annie Holgate will now get added support from the Local Education Authority, possible extra funding and regular re-appraisals from OFTSED to make sure action is being taken.

Samantha King, chairman of the school’s board of governors, said: “We and the school welcome the report and are pleased that it celebrates good features while identifying the areas in need of development that the head teacher had already identified.

“We have every confidence in the head teacher and staff in driving the school forward.”