Tuesday, July 16, 2019
‘an improving school’ where aspirations are high, students ‘are proud of their school and the atmosphere is calm and orderly’
Preston School is ‘an improving school’ where aspirations are high, students ‘are proud of their school and the atmosphere is calm and orderly’
Following our recent Ofsted inspection we are pleased that the inspectors were impressed by how the school has developed and improved since the last inspection. They commented that Preston is ‘an improving school…pupils’ behaviour in lessons and around the school site is excellent. They are proud of their school, wear their uniform with pride and respect the school environment.’
During their two days in school they were keen to praise the learning environment in the school and the report reflects this, saying that pupils ‘do not have concerns about bullying at the school. They stated that bullying is rare and dealt with effectively.’ They also said ‘pupils’ personal development is good. They are tolerant and respectful of each other and they are keen to play a part in the life of the school.’
They were generous in their praise of leaders at all levels and how the school has improved in the last four years, ‘The Principal has raised the expectations of staff and pupils. He has made improvements to the quality of education in the school since he took up post. He is determined to improve the quality of pupils’ experiences and raise their achievement. The Principal is steadily building leadership capacity at different levels. This has not been easy, and he has had to take some difficult decisions.’
Inspectors readily noticed the strengths and improvements in subjects across the school and the hard work of staff: ‘Pupils’ progress in English is improving rapidly. Strong and effective support for teachers of mathematics and science is also having a positive impact, and this can be seen in the recent work in pupils’ books.’ They also said, ‘in history and geography expectations of literacy are high and results in pupils producing high quality written work. Pupils’ work in computing and business studies is also of a high standard. Teachers are keen to develop their practice. This is because they are committed, enjoy their work and are receptive to new ideas. Teachers’ commitment to their work is helping to establish new initiatives.’
Just some of the many other positive aspects included:
· ‘The curriculum is matched well to the needs of the pupils and linked effectively with good careers guidance. All pupils progress to post 16 courses, training or apprenticeships that meet their needs and aspirations’
· ‘Provision for pupils with SEND is improving’
· ‘Pupils who have complex needs are well catered for by the area resources base’
· ‘Leaders use pupil premium funding and the Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium effectively’
· ‘The extra-curricular programme makes an important contribution to the school’s work to promote personal development’
· ‘The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. Pupils know how to keep themselves safe and whom to talk to if they have any concerns’
· ‘The introduction of ‘The Preston Way’ has led to much greater consistency in the quality of teaching and learning across the school’
· ‘Pupils benefit from positive relationships with staff. There is a mutual respect which reinforces good behaviour. It also enables classrooms to be safe spaces where pupils feel comfortable to speak up in front of their peers’
· ‘Pupils’ attitudes to learning are good’
· ‘Leaders’ improvements to teaching and learning, coupled with a more stable staffing structure, are helping to secure better progress for current pupils’
· ‘The Principal is highly committed to the school. He is taking decisive action raise standards’
All of these point are very pleasing and I am delighted that they reflect the hard work that our staff and governors put in to improving Preston School. We knew prior to the inspection that our ‘outcomes’ meant that we were likely to be graded as ‘requires improvement’ overall again and this proved to be the case. This is frustrating as the four Ofsted inspectors all recognised the many strengths and improvements detailed above, but were constrained by the framework in which GCSE data is the leading category.
Disappointingly, I had written to Ofsted requesting that they inspect us in the upcoming autumn term but this was not taken into consideration. The reason for asking for this is that our current Year 11 students are the first cohort to be examined having completed our new, updated curriculum that satisfies the Progress 8 performance measure. Previous cohorts have not, so whilst they judged outcomes to require improvement these are based on our 2018 exam results for a group where only 64% of the students were able to contribute effectively to the school’s Progress 8 data. Clearly this has a negative impact upon our data, despite overall attainment rising over the last four years. Progress 8 is also deeply flawed as a model as only half of schools in the country can be recognised as ‘good’!
Our outcomes are the only barrier to us being graded as good or outstanding and we will continue to work hard on supporting students gain the best possible grades in every subject. We have some exciting new plans to launch in the new academic year, which will build upon the successes and developments that Ofsted have recognised, and we will share these with you in September.
My main focus, and that of the staff, is to continue to radiate positivity for our students so that they can continue to build upon the many powerful comments about them in the Ofsted report. Our most important role is to help them keep believing in themselves as people and as learners and be optimistic about what they can achieve. Unfortunately, as with other schools, we know that a very, very small proportion of the local community would rather focus upon the negative. I would urge you not to do this as it only has a negative impact on attitudes to learning – if you have anything negative to say please do so by contacting me directly and not speaking to students or posting on social media. We will use the Principal’s Family Forum in the autumn term to speak through the report in more detail and how we are reacting to it and, as always, all family members will be invited.
Thank you for your ongoing support of the school and our children. I am extremely proud of the way that they and the staff went about their work whilst Ofsted visited, as I am every day.
Best wishes again for a lovely summer