Poole Schools 'Still Letting Pupils Down'

29 September 2015, 08:25 | Updated: 29 September 2015, 09:22

Inspectors say Poole Council still isn't doing enough to improve poor standards at the town's schools.

A new Ofsted report's found there's weak leadership and no clear plan in place - with disadvantaged children particularly being let down.
Ofsted carried out an inspection of the council’s arrangements for school improvement between 29 June and 3 July 2015.  This was in response to serious concerns about the achievement and progress of pupils in primary and secondary schools, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, disabled pupils and pupils with special education needs.

Four schools were inspected as part of this exercise and telephone calls were made to a further 24 schools in the area. The schools inspected were all due for an inspection.

In addition, inspectors held discussions with elected members, senior officers of Poole Borough Council, personnel responsible for supporting school improvement, partners delivering services brokered or commissioned by the authority, headteachers and governors from maintained schools and academies.

Ofsted said the aim of these inspections is to assess the contribution of local authorities to improving education in England. Inspectors examine the effectiveness of local authorities’ statutory duty to promote high standards in schools and among other providers so that children and young people achieve well and fulfil their potential.

Read the report here.

The council says it's committed to implementing recommendations from the report, is putting more m0poney in and working closely with schools.

The Borough of Poole said:

"The Council acknowledges the longstanding issue with raising standards consistently across Poole schools reflected in Ofsted’s report. It recognises that there is much more to do and is taking proactive steps to work in partnership with school leaders to achieve more rapid and sustained improvements.

"The Council is fully committed to implementing the recommendations of the report which contains some hard-hitting messages. The report also recognises changes made since 2013 to tackle poor leadership in Poole’s schools, as well as areas of relative strength such as Early Years, 14 to 19 services, Governors Services and support for education of children in care.

"The report highlights that the Council commissioned an independent review of its school improvement arrangements and school-to-school support in early 2015. The Council has already begun work to implement the changes recommended by the independent review which identified the same issues outlined in Ofsted’s report.

"Since May, the Council has:

·     Allocated an additional £140,000 to increase the capacity of our support to school improvement service.

·     Worked in partnership with school leaders to develop a new Education Strategy which sets out a clear vision and ambition and identifies key areas for improvement supported by targets for individual schools.

·     Started work with schools to improve outcomes of disadvantaged children.

·     Established a cross-party working group of councillors to monitor progress to raise educational standards.

"Ofsted said all elected members and officers at the Council now ‘express commitment to and ambition for raising educational standards in Poole’ and have identified key areas for improvement which has allowed a ‘sharper focus on challenge to schools’.

"The report said the Council had taken ‘challenging decisions’ and ‘acted robustly’ to tackle weak leadership. As a result, several schools are now benefiting from new leadership and improving governance.

"The inspection team also noted that a new School Standards Board is providing a positive opportunity for collaboration between school leaders and the Council.

"The Ofsted team visited Poole between 29 June and 3 July 2015. As part of their inspection, they held discussions with councillors and senior officers, including school advisors, and also talked to headteachers and governors of Poole schools. The Ofsted report also takes account of four school inspections carried out between 23 and 26 June 2015."

Jan Thurgood, Strategic Director for Children’s Services, Borough of Poole said:

"We are fully committed to implementing the recommendations of the inspection report. While the report acknowledged decisive actions have been taken since 2013 where there were issues of poor school leadership, we know we have much more to do to secure the highest possible education standards for all our children and young people. The Council and our schools are determined to work together to achieve rapid and sustained improvements.

"While overall standards must improve, it is important to stress there are schools in Poole that are performing very highly and also some that have consistent improvement."

Cllr Mike White, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, Borough of Poole said:

"We want every child in Poole to have the opportunity to attend a good or outstanding school. Clearly, past results were not good enough, particularly at Key Stage 2, and this is rightly reflected in Ofsted’s report.

"A lot of work has already been done to address this issue and some schools are making good progress. We are determined to achieve consistent improvement across all schools in Poole.

"Councillors and officers will continue to challenge and support schools and governing bodies to raise educational standards and outcomes for our young people."