Blackpool’s final high school under local authority control has been labelled ‘at times an unsafe place’ for pupils.
Inspectors from education watchdog Ofsted were so concerned about pupil’s behaviour at Highfield Humanities College they ordered senior teachers to write an action plan before their visit to the South Shore school was over.
They saw students running through the school’s atrium, leaving scattered tables and chairs, were told by pupils fights regularly break out, and spoke to parents and teachers who also expressed concern about poor behaviour from a small group of unruly students.
In his report, inspector Patrick Geraghty said: “An unpredictable and over-boisterous atmosphere was evident. The behaviour of a significant minority of pupils is unacceptable.
“The lead inspector became so concerned about behaviour and the potential for it to impact upon pupils’ safety that he requested senior leaders write an action plan to immediately tackle these concerns before the conclusion of the inspection.
“This they duly did. The lead inspector also requested that the local authority work with school leaders to refine and implement this plan with immediate effect.
Ofsted’s visit came days after teachers called in police when up to 200 out-of-control students ‘ran riot’ after a spat between two schoolboys led to a crowd of students chasing each other.
Highfield, which is poised to become an academy under the control of Tauheedul Education Trust (TET) this spring, has now been told it is ‘not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures’, which it was put in after being rated ‘inadequate’ in 2014.
Mr Geraghty’s report said students who were learning at levels above the national average in 2010 were under-achieving by the time they left last year, while the school’s projected outcomes for GCSE results were over-optimistic.
He said: “Exam results plummeted. For a majority of pupils, secondary education had failed them in crucial aspects.”
Teaching remains inconsistent and requires ‘rapid’ improvement in maths and science, although teaching is more purposeful and pupils make better progress in English and humanities.
There is ‘some good teaching’ and the majority of youngsters want to do well in class, showing ‘a palpable desire’ and expressing ‘an energy and ambition for betting learning’.
However, youngsters are easily distracted and many do not take pride in their work.
Attendance was also found to be declining and ‘too low’.
Headteacher Lynette Norris was praised for changing how the school records progress and has worked on how it can improve since taking over in September. New senior teachers are also being recruited to help her, Mr Geraghty said, while sponsor-in-waiting TET is already evidently supporting the school.
Ms Norris said: “Everyone at the school is striving to address these as quickly as possible to ensure all students have the opportunity to reach their potential.
“School improvement does not happen overnight and there is still much work to do. We are taking robust action to improve behaviour.
“We are confident that by continuing to move forward in this way, we will see standards improve and attainment increase over the coming months and years.”