Failing school is back ‘on the right track’

Highfield Humanities College in South Shore
Highfield Humanities College in South Shore
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A failing Blackpool school is “on the right track” to improve teaching and learning, inspectors have said, months on from a damning report.

Highfield Humanities College was visited by Ofsted in October last year and placed in special measures after inspectors reported seeing “poor” behaviour, “inadequate” teaching, and “ineffective” leadership using “inaccurate” evaluation.

In too many lessons teachers are not planning for progress by using attainment and assessment data to develop suitable activities

It meant the Highfield Road school was the third Blackpool high school to be placed in the lowest rating bracket in an 18-month period.

A follow-up inspection, in January, found “reasonable” progress was being made but that leaders had to “quicken the pace” for improvements.

Now school bosses have been given a further boost, as a further follow-up inspection found a number of improvements, including:

• Students in Years 11 and 10 are making better progress in English and mathematics;

• Student behaviour is improving and fixed-term exclusions have fallen; and

• There is improved co-ordination and focus by senior leaders on implementing and leading the school improvement agenda.

However, there is still much to be done, inspectors found.

They added: “In too many lessons teachers are not planning for progress by using attainment and assessment data to develop suitable activities.”

And: “The quality and impact of marking in student exercise books remain too variable.”

Head optimistic as he passes on the baton

Highfield Humanities College’s headteacher Ian Evans said he feels optimistic about the school’s future, as he is set to retire next month, after 13 years in the job.

He said: “This report is a step in the right direction and we’re pleased the improvements we’ve made have been recognised. There is still a great deal of work to be done and further improvements can and will be made but we’re on the right track.”

His successor, Lynette Norris, will join the school in September, with “a tremendous track record of work”.

Mr Evans added: “My time at Highfield has been enjoyable, despite facing the combined challenges of significant changes in the sector and the transition to our fantastic new building.”