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Friday, 13 April 2012 22:17

Marlowe Academy - first Monitoring Inspection

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The history of the Marlowe Academy Inspections is set out here but, in summary, the school failed its OFSTED in October 2010, being served with Notice to Improve. However, it failed to Improve, and sank to the lowest category, being placed in Special Measures in November 2011. By this time it had lost its headteacher and effectively handed over control to Academies Enterprise Group,  which put in an 'Intervention Team' to try and stall the calamity, but without success in the short time available to it. The school was featured in the Sunday Times and the Guardian at the end of last year, as described here.

The academy attempted to get the verdict overturned, without success, but managed to delay publication until 27th March, a wait of four months as distinct from the usual month that schools have to wait. One side effect of this was ......

 

that the first monitoring inspection of the school was taking place as publication occurred. All failed schools have a series of monitoring inspections following the initial decision.  Mr De Haan, Chairman of the Trustees writes in a letter to parents introducing the Report that: "I am pleased to report that, as we had expected, OFSTED's latest report shows that satisfactory progress is being made in all areas inspected, including those identified for improvement in last November's visit". 

Sadly, whilst the inspection report does indeed show considerable improvement over the previous disastrous inspection, it is simply not true that there was satisfactory progress in all areas inspected. The Report makes the case that it had inspected a temporary team of senior staff, who presumably will be gone in the summer, including: a full time interim principal, supported by part time associate and executive principals, together with five advanced skills teachers.  Surely, a short term fix, not remotely available to a main stream school in the same mess. 

However, the report does record: improved progress by students because the quality of teaching has improved; better progress in reading; good progress in other lessons which directly address low literacy levels; teaching staff being better focused on students learning needs; fewer lessons being inadequate; students increasing awareness of their targets; better arrangements for tracking students progress; Advanced Skills teachers making a positive impact here; guidance for prospective sixth formers is improving; exclusion levels have fallen (except for disabled students and those with special educational needs); better monitoring of student behaviour by staff; action to improve attendance; the interim leadership team is moving things forward; teaching is a high priority; and the trustees now have a more realistic  understanding of what the academy needs to achieve their challenging goals. 

Sadly, in spite of Mr De Haan's positive words, there are still too many negatives to counter these good comments, perhaps only to be expected when starting from such a low base. One specific and worrying crticism is the failure of the academy to produce the formal statement of action requried by OFSTED following any inspection, and which serves as a plan of campaign. For a school in such a low state this appears an unforgiveable mistake. We can only hope for the sake of the children that, when the interim team pulls out, there will be sufficient ability in the teams of trustees, new managers and teaching staff to continue what progress that has been made. 

Not surprisingly, parents recognised there were problems even before the OFSTED in November and applications for places in September 2012 fell sharply. Marlowe is one of only two non-selective secondary schools in Thanet with vacancies, being over half empty in Year Seven, with nearly 20% of the 81 places offered, being to children unable to get into one of their choices and allocated to the Marlowe by KCC.  

Read 29006 times Last modified on Saturday, 14 April 2012 19:22

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