Inspectors criticise troubled school

Bispham High School.
Bispham High School.
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A BLACKPOOL school threatened with closure has been given a damning report by Government watchdogs.

Bispham High School has been branded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted and put in special measures.

The report outlines key failings at the school, including:

• “Standards are low and have declined ... particularly in English and maths.”

• Too much “mediocre teaching.”

• The “governing body has been ineffective.”

It means Bispham High School, which is at the centre of a proposed merger with Collegiate High School, will now receive regular visits to be monitored by inspectors.

Parents were told by the school, on Bispham Road, last week about the findings of January’s inspection, but the full report was not published by Ofsted until this week.

Senior teachers, who were praised by Ofsted for their hard work and attempts to halt the school’s decline, today told The Gazette the findings of the report had been influenced by many factors.

The timing of the inspection, on January 23 and 24, clashed with meetings being held about the proposed merger, meaning staff were unable to give “a good account of themselves”, the headteacher said.

Headteacher Margaret Singleton said: “There was additional pressure on staff and governors because we had to attend meetings about the future of the school.”

Two meetings regarding the proposed merger were held at the Bispham school on January 24.

Mrs Singleton added: “I’m not saying we’d have a completely different report [had they not come during those two days]. The merger itself, however, is a totally separate issue.

“Last year, for the first time in four years, we fell below floor targets, this was because of the English results.

“So even though on the day they saw teaching which was good or outstanding the framework is if schools are not good enough then teaching cannot be marked good or outstanding.

“I’m not saying there are certain things that couldn’t be better, as with every school.

“We accept we have to act on recommendations.”

The report notes support given by the Local Authority but said this was not able to prevent the school’s decline, making it the first Blackpool high school to be placed under special measures.

Controversial plans to merge Bispham High and Collegiate, making them a joint academy school on Collegiate’s Blackpool Old Road site, are ongoing.

Sarah Riding, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for schools and education, said she was not surprised by the report’s findings.

She said: “Obviously it’s more than disappointing.

“If you’ve been previously satisfactory that’s not good enough, what it suggests is something has gone wrong.

“That’s what we’ve got to look at, you have to have the capacity to take on board what can be improved.”

The report added attendance among pupils was below the national average, although the school is working on persistent absentees, and lessons lack challenge.

It says standards are higher in science, RE and dance and a link-up with the Royal Ballet School has benefited pupils.

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