Mixed grades as inspectors visit classrooms

THREE of the borough's secondary schools have been given a mixed bag of reports from independent education inspectors

Ben McPartland

THREE of the borough's secondary schools have been given a mixed bag of reports from independent education inspectors.

Ofsted officials paid a visit to William Ellis, Parliament Hill and Acland Burghley secondaries in March to check on performance.

There was good news for Parliament Hill on Highgate Road, which was rated as a good school - the second highest rating possible.

Acland Burghley scored as satisfactory but staff might consider themselves hard done by as inspectors judged many elements as good.

William Ellis, also on Highgate Road, had the toughest time as it too was rated satisfactory but inspectors declared it was not providing value for money.

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But there was good news for the school which has been through turmoil recently.

A budget blunder by a former bursar left it half a million pounds in debt and this was followed by the resignation of headteacher Richard Tanton in January.

Inspectors now believe there is a good team in place behind acting head Malcolm Rose, which can pull William Ellis back up to the high standards it sets for itself.

"The acting headteacher has the confidence of parents and staff and is supported by a senior team with an appropriate range of expertise," said the report.

"There is also an experienced team of middle leaders and, together, the leadership team is better placed to take the school forward."

Inspectors were complimentary about many aspects of the school, including its commitment to ensuring racial harmony, the promotion of healthy lifestyles and its wide range of trips and cross curricular ventures.

But officials also demanded improvements from teachers in managing poor behaviour, setting higher challenges for students, and strengthening the evaluation and monitoring of pupils.

Vernon King, chairman of governors, said: "I am greatly encouraged by the report and its acknowledgement of the work undertaken by the school to address recent challenges.

"I am confident that with all the measures taken by the school and governors to address these challenges, the school will flourish as a beacon for boys education in Camden."

There were some positive words for teachers at Tufnell Park's Acland Burghley school, where inspectors were impressed by the positive relationships with pupils.

Commenting on the overall performance of the school, the report said: "Acland Burghley is a school with many good features where students receive a satisfactory education.

"The overall effectiveness of the sixth form is good. The school enjoys the support of parents, who reported how pleased they were with the quality of education and support their children receive."

Only the school's test results for 14-year-olds, which were average, prevented Acland Burgh-ley from gaining a good rating.

Headteacher Michael Shew said: "It's frustrating in terms of being graded good in almost everything.

"But we know what we have got to do and we are doing it.

"I'm pleased that the inspectors rated the school as 'good' in so many areas - teaching and learning, the curriculum, leadership and management, care, guidance and support, personal development and well being - and identified the core strengths of the school."

Parliament Hill secondary was praised by Ofsted officials for being a good secondary.

Their report said: "The school has successfully created a positive culture of learning that encourages students from diverse backgrounds to achieve their potential."

The teaching and the leadership in the secondary, which celebrated its centenary last year, was also commended.

Headteacher Sue Higgins said: "We are very pleased with the outcomes of the inspection. The report is very positive about all areas of the school's work.

"We know that our exam results are very good and improving. It is really pleasing that the inspection team recognised that our students achieve well because they are well taught and well cared for and supported."

Chairman of governors John Clark added: "I am delighted that the work of all members of the school community - parents, students, staff and governors - is recognised in this positive report.

"As a community comprehensive, we take pride in creating a setting in which students from all backgrounds can achieve their ambitions with us."

William Ellis

It is a satisfactory school that has recently been through a difficult period in its history. It is now working hard with its partners and the local authority to address the issues that arose during that time.

Although some parents expressed concerns about behaviour in the school, inspectors found that behaviour is satisfactory overall and is clearly linked to the quality of teaching and learning.

The care, guidance and support students receive is good. Boys feel well cared for and supported in a secure environment - a strength of which is the in-depth knowledge that teachers have of their individual needs.

Leadership and management are satisfactory. There have been several changes which have strengthened the school's position and mean it now has satisfactory capacity to improve.

Acland Burghley

Behaviour is good and a tribute to both the students and to the hard work undertaken by staff to implement the school's behaviour policy consistently.

The personal guidance students receive is very good and effective use is made of external agencies to help them overcome difficulties. Vulnerable students respond well to rewards, links with peer mentors and to the positive relationships with their teachers.

Governance is satisfactory, but governors have not given sufficient priority and urgency to ensuring the school meets its statutory requirements for religious education.

The headteacher has a clear vision of creating a sense of community and inclusion within the school, which he is doing successfully with the support of the senior team and middle managers.

Parliament Hill

A responsive pastoral system and a good breadth of extra curricular activities has resulted in good personal development and well-being for students.

Teaching and learning are good because teachers have good subject knowledge and work hard with students to help them achieve their potential.

Vulnerable students, including those who are designated as 'looked-after children', receive excellent support that helps them stay on course.

The headteacher's strong leadership, clear vision and methodical direction has resulted in the school continuously improving achievement and standards for students.