Shock Ofsted ruling on Epworth academy

Children pictured with the new school sign: (back, L-R) George Metcalfe, Nadine Addleses, Tiegan Butler (all aged 9), (front, L-R) Patrick Hardacre & Evie Jackson (both 8). Some of the children are wearing the school tie, which has just re-introduced as an optional part of the school uniform.
Children pictured with the new school sign: (back, L-R) George Metcalfe, Nadine Addleses, Tiegan Butler (all aged 9), (front, L-R) Patrick Hardacre & Evie Jackson (both 8). Some of the children are wearing the school tie, which has just re-introduced as an optional part of the school uniform.

An Isle primary academy has been cast in to the special measures category by Ofsted inspectors who claim it is failing its pupils.

Epworth Primary Academy is believed to be the first Isle of Axholme school so far to plunge to the lowest Ofsted grading, which demands urgent and significant improvement.

Parents whose children attend the school are stunned by the ruling, and some of them have voiced their concern on social media websites including the Epworth Bells’ Facebook website. One anxious mum posted: “After seeing Epworth Primary Ofsted report I’m considering working 100 hours a week to send my daughter to private school!”

But she later added: “Personally I’ve never had any reason to doubt the teaching.”

The 260-pupil school achieved a satisfactory rating at its last Ofsted inspection that took place before it was converted to an academy in September 2012.

It then acquired the freedom to set its own curriculum, pay scales and terms of employment. The school is still supported by the local authority in reviewing data and teachers’ performances.

The report released on Monday said: “Leaders and the governing body do not have an accurate view of how the school is doing,” and there is “considerable underperformance from staff at all levels.”

It adds: “Pupils are seen to behave well, though many lessons are dull and uninspiring.”

Lisa Davies, 32, who serves on the Friends of Epworth School committee and whose six-year old daughter is a pupil said: “People are shocked by the report. I feel it doesn’t reflect what I know of the school. It is worrying for parents. Everyone is wondering what will happen.”

A meeting to update parents on how the school expects to move forward was to take place yesterday (Wednesday) as the Bells went to press.

Headteacher John Hodgkins responded swiftly to the report. He said: “We are disappointed and surprised and are working hard to address the inspector’s findings, with support from governors and staff.”

Already, he said, a full assessment of key stage two children’s progress in reading, writing and mathematics has been done, with a full review of SEN (Special Educational Needs) provision in school. He said the school “will act on recommendations urgently over the summer term.”

Mr Hodgkins continued: “In the last few years, the school has made some progress and overall standards have risen, particularly in maths. Last year, the Government judged we had made enough progress to become a stand alone academy.”

He pointed out positive aspects of the report that said: “Most children behave well, are friendly and polite, and well cared for with good relationships between staff and pupils.”

And the headteacher added: “I am confident that with the right support, we will improve.”

Key findings in the 10-page Ofsted report conclude that achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, and leadership and management are all inadequate and reading standards, particularly for boys, are too low. The report states: “Actions to improve the school have not raised achievement or secured good progress for all pupils. The school’s capacity to improve is weak.”