The headteacher of a school once branded among the worst on the Fylde coast today said the hard work is far from over after it was removed from special measures.
Less than two years after a damning Ofsted report that raised concerns over safety at South Shore Academy, inspectors said “sheer grit and determination” had turned its fortunes around.
Headteacher Jane Bailey said: “The school has had a chequered history, but I’m really passionate about making sure when I leave here, the school gets to good or outstanding.”
Inspectors said the school, which still ‘requires improvement’, has made good progress in all areas.
Delighted headteacher Jane Bailey described the move as a ‘stepping stone’ towards being rated as good or outstanding – and hinted she could step down when that is achieved.
She told The Gazette yesterday: “The school has had a chequered history, but I’m really passionate about making sure when I leave here, the school gets to good or outstanding.
“We still have a long way to go but it’s achievable. If you are to make changes that really matter, you have to build from the bottom.
“We have been very clear about what our plan is going to be. I have always said it will take time to achieve that gold standard of good or outstanding.
“We are on our way to achieving that, but we still have areas we need to address, and parents and pupils also need to address, such as attendances and taking more responsibility for their own learning.”
Ofsted’s report, released yesterday, said: “Senior leaders have turned this school round through sheer grit and determination.
“Their combined focus has improved all aspects of the school’s work. Pupils are proud of the school and recognise that behaviour is much improved.
“They identify it as a safe place to be, and one that respects individual differences.”
Shortfalls in teaching have been tackled, though some still needs to be improved, while not all teachers are as good as those in English, maths, and science, leading to some inconsistency.
Behaviour and attendance has improved, with several counsellors helping pupils with mental health difficulties, while the school’s Right to Succeed project, aimed at building youngsters up mentally, has had a ‘considerable’ impact.
“Inspectors observed a maturity in the learning and behaviours of older pupils who stay for extra classes after school, and whose attendance remains in line with the rest of the school,” Ofsted said.
Although younger pupils don’t yet get enough opportunities to develop, leaving them short of confidence when answering questions, they feel safe and are aware of societal issues, including sexting – the sending of explicit messages to peers – grooming and online safety, alcoholism, and domestic violence.
The report added: “Achievement is rising for all groups of pupils across the school because, in the main, teaching has improved across the majority of subject areas and pupils are more ready to learn. However, gaps in progress and attainment exist for disadvantaged pupils and most able pupils do not reach the high standards of which they are capable.”
Ms Bailey, who said the school faces challenges some others in the resort don’t, including a number of youngsters starting mid-way through the year and financial constraints due to the number of empty seats – around 150 out of 900 – and added: “As a result that makes things harder to achieve.
“But if you set your sights and your are tenacious and refuse to deviate from that goal, you can make the difference.”