Inspectors slam troubled primary school

Revoe Primary School, Blackpool.
Revoe Primary School, Blackpool.
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A Blackpool primary school at the centre of an investigation into the safety of its pupils has been criticised by government watchdogs in a scathing report.

Ofsted inspectors said Revoe Primary had “declined rapidly” in recent years and have now placed the school under special measures.

It has been branded ‘inadequate’ – just two-and-a-half years after it was given a ‘good’ rating – with bullying, badly-behaved pupils and name-calling said to be too common.

The neighbouring children’s centre, which comes under the school’s governance, was also labelled ‘inadequate’.

The damning report comes as six members of staff, including the headteacher Cath Woodall, remain suspended amid an investigation into allegations a child was shut in a “cooling off room”.

Ofsted, which acknowledged the ongoing investigation, said “safeguarding policies and procedures have not been applied consistently.” and that “leaders had not taken effective action to ensure that pupils behave well”.

The reported added that school “leaders had not taken effective action to ensure that pupils behave well”.

Ofsted found:

• Too many pupils behave badly and disrupt learning. Bullying and name-calling are too common and some pupils do not feel safe.

• Leaders had not taken effective action to ensure that pupils behave well and feel safe.

• Staff’s understanding of their obligation to keep pupils safe has not been checked.

• Key aspects of the school’s performance have declined rapidly.

• Wide variation in the quality of teaching.

• Staff morale is low.

• Parents do not feel well informed.

Ofsted said certain areas required improvement while others were inadequate.

Inspectors, who spent two days in the Grasmere Road school in March, praised the impact of an interim leadership team brought in to help stabilise the school and today council chiefs insisted progress was being made.

Sarah Riding, cabinet member for education, said: “While it is disappointing for one of our schools to be placed in special measures, we wholly accept the judgements from Ofsted.

“The report has highlighted specific areas for development and we have taken them on board.

“However, I’m pleased to note that, even in the relatively short time since the inspection, we are seeing more positive outcomes from the school.”

Neil Hodgkins, headteacher at Devonshire Primary School, is working as executive headteacher while Phil Barlow is the acting headteacher in light of the staff suspensions.

The Ofsted report notes improvements made since they arrived, and says the school’s capacity to improve is “highly dependent” on external support from the local authority and the interim leadership team.

It also notes positives including the good attainment of Year Six pupils in 2012 and highlights “stronger teaching” seen in some classes, “skilful” teaching assistants, “specific advice” given to pupils and “effective” reading sessions help pupil’s confidence.

Ofsted inspectors have now outlined a number of ways for the school to improve “as a 
matter of urgency”.

These include:

• Introducing a set of non-negotiable rules for good behaviour.

• Ensuring all staff are trained thoroughly in safeguarding.

• Ensuring that staff receive the training, support and guidance that they need.

• Monitoring lessons and checking pupils’ work regularly to identify strengths and weaknesses in the quality of teaching.

Blackpool Council has said it will take on the recommendations and continue to build on progress made in recent months.

Coun Riding added: “That is just a starting point, however, and there is still a lot more work to do.

“We will continue to work with Neil and the rest of the team at the school, children’s centre to make the necessary changes to meet Ofsted’s recommendations.”

The investigation into members of staff suspended at Revoe Primary School earlier in the year is still ongoing.

Police were called into the investigate the matter but swiftly dropped any criminal investigation.

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Reports from school inspectors cover four key areas, all of which were found to be failing at Revoe Primary School.

The report found:

Achievement of pupils - requires improvement

• Most pupils show willingness to learn when teaching is good, however ... too much teaching is less than good

• Progress varies widely between lessons and year groups

• Children join the Early Years Foundation Stage with skills and abilities well below those found in most children of a similar age. They settle quickly, outcomes are below national average but levels of progress are improving.

• Most Year Six pupils made good progress in 2012 and reached an average level of attainment

Quality of teaching - requires improvement

• Newly qualified teachers are not given the support they need.

• The quality of teaching depends entirely on teachers’ individual skills. Staff development has had little impact

• There have been many changes to the responsibilities of teachers this year and this has caused disruption to teaching and learning

• Most teachers mark pupils’ work regularly and praise their efforts

Behaviour and safety of pupils - inadequate

• The frequent changes in class groups mean that teachers and pupils have little time to form good relationships. Consequently, many pupils feel anxious

• Pupils say that incidents of poor behaviour, including bullying, occur regularly on the playground and between lessons

• Since the appointment of the interim leadership team, there has been an improvement in behaviour

• The records of behavioural incidents are incomplete and badly organised

Leadership and management - inadequate

• Leaders have not taken effective action to ensure behaviour is good and that pupils feel safe

• Arrangements for checking on the quality of teachers’ performance are ineffective

• The interim leadership team has taken rapid action to stabilise the situation for pupils and staff and to ensure that safeguarding arrangements are appropriate. Trust in this team from pupils and staff has developed quickly and is growing

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