Inspectors praise Huntingdon school’s progress following call for improvements

Cromwell Academy in Huntingdon. Picture: GOOGLE.

Cromwell Academy in Huntingdon. Picture: GOOGLE. - Credit: Archant

Government officials have praised a Huntingdon primary school for its efforts to address the “dispiriting judgements” made by inspectors during a recent visit from Ofsted.

In a report published in June, Ofsted inspectors said Cromwell Academy had “not maintained a good standard of education” and rated the school as requiring improvement.

But Tim Coulson, the regional schools commissioner for the East of England, said the school had, since its initial inspection, “rolled up its sleeves and attacked the issues with considerable energy”.

In a letter to the school’s chairman of governors, Gary Weston, Mr Coulson said: “Both staff and pupils have been impressed and energised by [acting head teacher] Lauren Blyth’s leadership, and parents are reported to have responded well to her openness and preparedness to listen.”

Mr Coulson added that the school is “potentially well placed to improve rapidly” and highlighted areas in which progress could be made, including improving pupil attendance, the high turnover of staff, and the use of pupil premium funding, which is money given to schools to help raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

He added: “The school is well ordered, well organised and there is palpable enthusiasm amongst the young staff. The school’s internal environment is vibrant and stimulating. The distance to make up in terms of performance is not huge.”

The commissioner added, however, that the biggest short-term risks to the school were the relative inexperience of staff, and the hitherto high turnover of teachers, with new staff taking time to settle in.

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It was also noted by the commissioner that the school plans to become part of an academy trust led by Hinchingbrooke School. Consultation is currently taking place, with a view to joining the multi-academy trust from January next year.

In the wake of the commissioner’s visit, Mr Weston, school staff, and fellow governors, held a meeting with parents to address questions or issues surrounding the Ofsted report and the subsequent plan to join the academy trust.

At the meeting, parents raised concerns about the absence of head teacher Stephanie Baldwin following the Ofsted report. Mr Weston said that “matters would be resolved as quickly as possible”.