Huntingdon head not surprised as Ofsted says school must improve

Hinchingbrooke School Principal Andrew Goulding Hinchingbrooke School Principal Andrew Goulding

Thursday, March 13, 2014
9:17 AM

Ofsted has concluded that Hinchingbrooke School requires improvement following a two-day inspection last month.

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The Huntingdon secondary school received a grade three rating and will be visited by inspectors within two years. It was the first time it had been inspected since becoming an academy in September 2011.

According to the school’s own records, a “significant proportion” of lessons in science and, to a lesser degree, mathematics, had “not been well taught”, said the report.

The quality of teaching was described as “variable” with pupils making limited progress because the work they were doing was either too easy or too difficult. When inspectors spoke to “more able” pupils they said about one in five lessons were “insufficiently demanding”.

Another criticism was that pupils said they were not clear about how to improve and the quality of feedback and marking was inconsistent.

Inspectors also concluded that the achievement of pupils required improvement, noting that many made “slow progress” in science. Despite an overall improvement in GCSE maths results, “significant numbers” of less-able pupils were not making enough progress.

In the sixth form, the number of top grades at A-level had dropped in recent years, said the report, to a level below the national average.

Two areas judged as “good” were leadership and management and behaviour and safety of pupils.

Improvements had been secured by the principal Andrew Goulding, his senior team and governors, due to their “robust, decisive and energetic” leadership.

The standard of English lessons and literacy were singled out for praise, along with humanities and languages, where pupils performed well.

Inspectors also found that changes were being made to make sure pupils were doing courses which matched their skills.

The variety of sport, artistic and cultural activities available was “exceptionally wide”, they said.

Speaking to The Hunts Post, Mr Goulding, who took over as principal in September 2012, said he thought the inspectors had been “very fair”.

“It was a very helpful report which told us what we knew,” he continued. “It was good they acknowledged the changes that have already been made that should result in the right outcome.”

Mr Goulding said marking would be the focus of the next staff training day. He added: “A lot of the criticism was to do with lack of consistency, particularly of marking, so we have had a whole staff meeting, we have re-established what our expectations are and we are in the process of re-writing our assessment policy.”

He said it was a shame that Ofsted was not as interested in other aspects of Hinchingbrooke which were “clearly outstanding”, such as its performing arts and sport departments.

Commenting on GCSE exam results in 2013, he added: “We saw a big improvement last year and we will have a further rise this year too.

“We are certainly not disheartened and will certainly not be complacent.”

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