Requires Improvement rating for secondary school that admits it needs to “improve relations with parents”

Ofsted rates St Neots secondary school as Requires Improvement

Ofsted rates St Neots secondary school as Requires Improvement - Credit: Archant

A “significant minority” of parents would not recommend Longsands Academy as a school, the latest report by inspectors has highlighted.

The school was given a Requires Improvement rating by Ofsted, a drop from the Good standard at its previous inspection.

The report said some students and parents were frustrated or confused over the way changes to the school's behaviour policies were applied and that more work needed to be done to make sure new approaches were amended in light of leaders' reviews, understood by pupils and parents and were consistently applied by teachers.

Longsands retained its Good rating for both the quality of its education and its sixth form, but it was given the lower Requires Improvement in behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management.

The report said: "A large number of parents left responses on Parent View, Ofsted's online questionnaire. While many are supportive of leaders' work, a significant minority would not recommend the school.

"Leaders have put in place strategies to better communicate with parents. More needs to be done to inform and reassure parents about the reasons for, timing and impact of the changes that are taking place."

It said pupils' work was of a good or improving quality and published exam results reflected developments made to the quality of teaching.

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"Pupils have mixed views on behaviour and how it is managed," the report said. "They told us that behaviour in lessons is much better than it used to be. We saw plenty of evidence of pupils working hard and behaving well in their classes.

"However, pupils told us that they get frustrated or confused with how some teachers apply the school's policies. Some parents and carers also expressed frustration over how adults apply the school's behaviour policies. Some pupils are taking longer to adapt to leaders' expectations of how they should behave."

The report said Longsands, part of the Astrea Academy Trust since September 2018, had amended its curriculum and teachers were clear on what should be taught and the best order to teach it in, with strong examples in English, history, languages, music and mathematics. Teachers had a good knowledge of their subjects and how to teach them.

But it said teaching for students with special needs were uneven.

The report said the principal had acted to improve students' behaviour, with the most recent changes being introduced in September. However, more work needed to be done to make sure the changes were understood.

Students in the sixth form achieved well because their curriculum was suitably designed and delivered.

The report said expectations of how pupils should behave had been raised but aspects of the system were new and left some students and parents confused and unhappy about the rationale for, and impact of, the changes.

The school also needed to improve how students develop understanding about cultural, social and spiritual issues, together with support of emotional and mental wellbeing.

The report said several parents had expressed concern over the quality of provision for children with special needs.

Hywel Jones, principal, has written to parents saying: "There is much we are proud of in the report, notably the recognition that our new approach to behaviour is having a positive impact, that pupils' work is good and improving and that our exam results show the improvements that we have made to the quality of education at Longsands."

He said they were proud of what had been achieved to improve behaviour, but they recognised there was more to be done to ensure greater consistency on how policy was applied.

Mr Jones said they also needed to improve relations with parents and that the school is continuing with its termly Principal Information Evenings, with the next one taking place on February 4. The academy is also looking for a number of parents to join the Local Executive Consultative Committee hopes to be able to announce these appointments early in the term.