Special measures for The Bulwell Academy but staff say issues already being tackled

The Bulwell Academy is in special measures.

Inspectors from Ofsted visited the Squires Lane school in November and made the dramatic decision after concluding that the overall effectiveness of the school was inadequate.

The achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management were all cited as being inadequate.

The summary of the report says “this is a school that requires special measures” and highlights a number of areas such as “alarmingly” low attendance and the fact “teachers do not challenge unacceptable behaviour consistently.”

Staff at the academy say that they are already tackling issues and working hard to ensure the academy gets on track.

Principal Paul Halcro yesterday told Dispatch that standards had improved over the past year, and that parents could be confident that results would continue to improve.

In a letter to parents, Mr Halcro said: “First of all, when I joined the academy just over a year ago, I was in no doubt that substantial change needed to be made to ensure that students achieved excellent results.

“The sharp increase in the percentage of students achieving 5 A*-C including English and maths this year means we are the most improved school in Nottingham.

“Despite these significant improvements Ofsted still judged our achievement as inadequate; as a result of this, other areas were judged more harshly. Nottingham has the lowest attendance rates in the country and although we are working hard to improve the attendance of our students, it was still judged to be inadequate.”

Mr Halcro has scheduled a series of meetings in the New Year for parents to meet with him and discuss the Ofsted report and inspectors’ conclusions.

The Ofsted report on Bulwell Academy was one of a number published on eight secondary schools that were inspected in Nottingham between the 12th and 15th November. It says the inspections were carried out following concerns about the performance of these schools.

In a statement, Ofsted said that six schools were found to be performing poorly and have been placed in special measures, including The Bulwell Academy.

Louise Soden, Ofsted Regional Director for the East Midlands said: “The outcome of these inspections is a serious concern. We will continue to closely monitor and support these schools to help them to improve quickly. They will receive a monitoring inspection once a term until they come out of special measures.

“As Regional Director for the East Midlands, I will be working with the local authority, academy sponsors and headteachers through the Nottingham Challenge Board to ensure all children in the city have the chance to go to a good school as soon as is possible.”

The news about the Ofsted report will focus on the academy going into special measures.

But the report does say that the school has its strengths.

For example:* There is some good teaching in the academy.

*Students’ achievement in English and mathematics has improved.

* Disabled students and those who have special educational needs are making better progress

than previously.

*The academy’s leaders have started taking action to address several areas of weakness, including making radical changes to the staffing structure and to the curriculum.

The news comes just a few weeks after the academy was awarded the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber’s School of the Year award for its “commitment to nurturing employability skills and business links for young people”.­

Principal Paul Halcro said that the Ofsted report confirmed the areas being tackling in the academy were the right ones, including ensuring students achieve and that attendance improves.

He added: “I believe the Academy is now in its strongest position and the developments needed to continue our improvement will go on by ensuring that teaching and learning is of the highest standard and ensuring that all students have an excellent attendance record.”

Bulwell MP Graham Allen told the Dispatch that the school had a fantastic head, staff and pupils and suggested that a two-day inspection of a number of Nottingham schools by Ofsted was itself not an adequate investigation.

He said that more work was being done throughout education in Nottingham to ensure youngsters were “school ready” at the age of four, and ready for secondary school at 11.

The Bulwell Academy’s Chair of Governors, David Harbourne, speaking on behalf of the governors and academy sponsors, Edge, said that as a result of the hard work of staff and students alike, this summer’s results were the best in the Academy’s history, with 45 per cent of pupils achieving at least five A* to C grades at GCSE or equivalent (including English and maths), compared with 31 per cent the year before.

He said: “However, Ofsted makes judgements not just on a single set of results, but across a range of measurements over a three year period.

“These indicate that Bulwell Academy falls short of national expectations in a number of key areas. The Academy’s staff, governors and sponsors were well aware of these challenges before last month’s Ofsted inspection.

“A new principal, Paul Halcro, was appointed in September 2012. He acted swiftly to strengthen teaching and leadership, reform the curriculum and tackle persistent absence.”

He added that one of the country’s most successful state secondary schools agreed to co-sponsor Bulwell Academy.

“Thomas Telford School achieves consistently outstanding results and was already sponsor of a number of other academies before agreeing to join the Edge Foundation as Bulwell’s co-sponsor’” said Mr Harbourne.

“Being part of the Thomas Telford family provides access to a fantastic range of advice, ideas and expertise: we will put this to full use in the weeks and months to come.

“Education is the most valuable investment we can make in any young person’s future. It is therefore vital to work in partnership with parents and carers to help all students achieve their full potential.”