Historic school rapped over staffing issues

Baines School, Poulton. / view
Baines School, Poulton. / view
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A headteacher has promised “consistency and rigour” to turn around an historic secondary school that has faced difficulties and staffing issues in recent years.

Baines High School, Poulton, has been branded as “requiring improvement” by Ofsted inspectors, after they found a “significant reduction in staff” and “a decline in the quality of teaching and achievement” compared to the last inspection in 2011..

Significant changes to, and reduction, in staff was the major contributory factor in a decline in the quality of teaching and achievement.

Ofsted report

Following a visit in early May, inspectors have blasted teaching at the school, saying it is inconsistent, does not challenge pupils and many leaders are inexperienced.

The school on Highcross Road, founded in 1717, has previously been rated good with outstanding features, following inspections in 2011, 2007 and 2002.

Now headteacher Roddy McCowan has written to parents saying that while the rating is “disappointing” he remains “confident and optimistic” Baines will improve.

But inspectors found:

> Since the last inspection, there have been significant changes to, and reduction, in staff. This was the major contributory factor in a decline in the quality of teaching and achievement.

> Compared to good schools, too few students make better progress than expected from their starting points.

> The progress of students across subjects is variable. Most notably, progress in English and science is not as strong as many other subjects.

Mr McCowan said: “The overall judgement is clearly a disappointment but as other schools have found, meeting the increasingly-stringent and regularly revised standards set by Ofsted is a considerable challenge.

“The inspection report provides clear context and background as to how a challenging financial and staffing situation has been resolved and the new, more secure staffing, in both science and English, should now make a much more positive impact on results.”

The report outlined how the school had faced “significant difficulties recruiting sufficient numbers of good teachers” in English.

Mr McCowan added: “We are confident in our journey forward, as indeed is Ofsted as the report states ‘This school has capacity to improve’.”

The report noted that while “students’ achievement was particularly weak” in 2013, “there has been clear improvement in the quality of teaching and students’ achievement.”

It also praised students, saying they are “excellent ambassadors for their school” and “the work of some students is exemplary”.