The academy trust that runs Highfield secondary school in South Shore has been told to rapidly improve it – or face losing it.
The school was put into special measures after being rated ‘inadequate’ by education watchdog Ofsted earlier this month, and Vicky Beer, the regional schools commissioner, said in a letter to Star Academies: “I need to be satisfied this academy can achieve rapid and sustained improvement. If I am not satisfied this can be achieved, I will consider issuing a termination warning notice.”
Such a notice would see the trust, formerly Tauheedul, told its funding faces being stopped, while one issued to a trust elsewhere recently threatened to transfer its failing school to “a strong multi-academy trust that can provide the capacity for continued improvement”.
Ms Beer said she wanted to see the school’s action plan, and asked for a meeting with bosses next Wednesday.
Inspectors said they turned up a number of failings after visiting the Highfield Road school unannounced – with 16 weaknesses and two strengths highlighted in a report.
It led to the exit of the headteacher, with Andrew Galbraith taking over, though Shirley Gornall, executive director of quality assurance at Star Academies said: “The inspection came at the end of a difficult term when we were not in a position to present the school in its best light.”
Ofsted said: “It is leaders’ view they have made some improvements since the new school opened in April 2016.
“However, senior leaders underestimate many endemic weaknesses that are clearly apparent. For instance, leaders believe pupils’ behaviour is good. The judgement they had made about this aspect of the school is inaccurate.
“It contradicts the evidence gathered on inspection, including the opinions of many pupils and staff who spoke with the inspection team.”
In a statement in response to Ms Beer’s letter, Star Academies said yesterday: “We are committed to turning the school around and ensuring that young people at Highfield Leadership Academy receive the best possible education.
“We have implemented a robust action plan to address the weaknesses that Ofsted has identified, and we are already starting to see improvements as a result the actions we have taken.
“We are confident that we will deliver rapid improvements at the school, whilst also addressing endemic challenges in a sustainable way.
“We have met with parents and will continue to keep them informed of the progress.”