St Neots: Improved college out of special measures

ST Neots Community College has been taken out of special measures after impressing Ofsted inspectors with its improvements.

The school, which had been placed in special measures in 2009, is expecting a much-improved inspection report when it is published later this week with an overall rating of satisfactory and some areas of the school’s work classified as outstanding and good.

Two years ago the school was deemed to be failing to give pupils an acceptable standard of education and there was concern from Ofsted that the school’s leaders were “not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement”.

A raft of changes was planned – one of which formed the Longsands Learning Partnership and gave Longsands College principal Robert Whatmough responsibility for St Neots Community College as executive principal.

Mr Whatmough said on Friday that the school had achieved a remarkable turnaround in a short space of time.

“Much of the work that contributed towards this success began before my time here. It’s been a culmination of two years of hard work through the dedicated involvement of the senior team.”

He added: “The overall vision [for the college] needed to be bigger and now we want to deliver a high quality of education for the whole of St Neots at secondary level to show what can be achieved.”

Most Read

One of the areas highly praised by Ofsted during an inspection on Wednesday and Thursday of last week were teaching standards – an area that should get a good rating from Ofsted, according to the school.

Pupil behaviour is also expected to be rated good. Students also spoke positively to the inspection team about the education they were receiving.

“Although the report doesn’t actually come out until later this week, I am quietly confident that no aspect of the college will be failing,” Mr Whatmough said. “Ofsted said that our partnership with other schools and agencies was outstanding. They said the atmosphere was calmer and more purposeful. They also said that they noticed that students attitudes towards their own learning had changed in a positive way.”

Another initiative at the school that has had an impact, Mr Whatmough told The Hunts Post, was an assertive mentoring policy. This allows students discuss their progress with a mentor, and find out what staff think they can achieve, and how they can work in partnership to bridge any gap.

“Assertive mentoring is positive interaction between staff and students,” he said. “We look to see how best a pupil’s passage through school can be supported. At the end of the day we tell them that all they can do is be the best they can be, and we we’re here to help them achieve that.”

Mr Whatmough added that it was essential that St Neots Community College continued with its momentum and that the school intended to build on its achievements.

“I think this success will breed success,” he said. “What I hope I have achieved is, first and foremost, to demonstrate that as a team we can forge a future that we can all be proud of.

“The past few months have proved that two schools working together can achieve great things.”