Damning report for Maida Hill school

A MAIDA Hill school which provides alternative education to excluded pupils has been told it is making ‘inadequate progress’ in its latest Ofsted monitoring report.

The report on the City of Westminster College’s Education Otherwise unit, in Saltram Crescent, highlighted a number of issues including poor attendance, a restrictive curriculum and a disruptively high level of leadership turnover.

The school went through three headteachers from April to December last year before current headteacher Ann Tucker took over the reins in January.

The report said: “Leadership of the unit has undergone significant change since the previous inspection.

“The very high turnover of headteachers has impeded the unit’s ability to respond decisively to the most important areas for improvement.”

The centre offers a range of courses for students who have been excluded from mainstream education and require different learning needs.

In its last full Ofsted inspection in March 2009, the school was judged as ‘satisfactory’ overall but told to improve a number of specific areas including punctuality and attendance.

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But the latest monitoring report published in October said: “A year after this issue was brought to the unit’s attention, monitoring records show that punctuality remains a problem and it is having a negative impact on students’ learning.

“Poor punctuality indicates that students clearly do not find lessons interesting or enjoyable and attendance figures tend to confirm this. Attendance is low.”

More than half of students failed to reach a 50 per cent attendance figure in the last school year with the school criticised for choosing a blanket improvement target of 10 per cent rather than tailoring targets for individual pupils.

Furthermore, the report criticised the school’s curriculum which “continues to be a restraint to students’ enjoyment and progress rather than enthusing, motivating and liberating them”.

It adds: “The curriculum is not sufficiently different to that which contributed to students’ disaffection in their mainstream schools in the first place.”

However, the report does suggest the school has a “capacity to improve” with a number of measures having been put in place including a supportive management committee, the introduction of a new improvement plan, and monthly meetings of key stakeholders.

City of Westminster College Principal, Keith Cowell, said: “We welcome the latest monitoring visit’s helpful and constructive comments about areas that still need to be improved upon.

“We are also pleased that the inspector saw signs that the unit has laid foundations to improve its capacity to deliver better outcomes for students.

“He also noted that the headteacher, who only joined in January 2010, is well supported by resources, management and external consultants.

“We continue to work to improve the Education Otherwise service and provide the best possible outcome for these learners.”