Failing school is on right track

South Shore Academy
South Shore Academy
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A Blackpool high school placed in special measures by Ofsted is making good progress, inspectors ruled.

South Shore Academy, in St Anne’s Road, has been praised for its improvements after it was found to be inadequate in every area by the education watchdog last May.

Headteacher Jane Bailey

Headteacher Jane Bailey

But there is still work to be done after ‘disappointing’ GCSE results, inspector Philippa Darley said following a recent visit.

She said: “The academy failed to meet the minimum national standard. Progress and attainment in maths and science was particularly poor.

“In the case of science, this was owing to poor decisions made previously about the courses pupils should follow, combined with poor-quality teaching. Standards for the current Year 11 pupils are not set to substantially increase. They have significant gaps in their learning across a wide range of subjects due to poor teaching over time.”

There has been a shake-up of senior teachers and several staff changes since Ofsted’s last inspection, and the academy is now working with the Blackpool Challenge, a partnership of schools working together to drive up standards.

We have had staffing changes for the better and we have a clear and robust plan in place. We are also working with an outstanding science department

Headteacher Jane Bailey

All Year 9 and 10 students are now studying at least two science qualifications and more are taking foreign language courses and humanities, which ‘represents a significant improvement that has the potential to raise achievement over the long term.’

And attainment by youngsters in Year 9 has already improved as teachers demand more, although the quality of teaching in science ‘remains poor’, Ms Darley said.

Headteacher Jane Bailey said: “We have had staffing changes for the better and we have a clear and robust plan in place. We are also working with an outstanding science department.

“This was our first [of five] monitoring visits and Ofsted said they recognise the school is in a position to move forward and address the issues that need to be addressed.”

The report also said students continue to struggle with their writing skills, with teachers told they need to check work more closely and give better feedback.

Ms Darley said: “The academy does not yet have an established policy for checking grammar and spelling. This impedes the progress pupils make as the level of sophistication in their writing does not increase over time.”

Ms Bailey said: “Some of the time the children we inherit here have poor literacy skills. We now have a programme across the school to raise standards.”

Behaviour has improved and students enjoy ‘largely friendly and respectful’ relationships with their teachers.

Ms Bailey said: “Behaviour is much, much better. This is a very calm and orderly school that is purposeful. Everything we do is about improving the progress of our young people.”

Ms Bailey said she now hopes the school will be removed from special measures by the 2016/17 academic year.