Education crisis: Seven out of eight Oldham schools failing as standards nosedive, according to Ofsted

By Jess Owen

Standards in seven out of eight Oldham primary and secondary schools have plummeted, according to Ofsted reports published last month.

A number of reports published in October revealed that standards had fallen in all but one of the schools inspected.

English was revealed as a particular problem area across the board.

Thorp Primary School and St Matthew’s C of E Primary School suffered the most staggering fall in their Ofsted performance with standards declining from ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement.’

St Matthew’s C of E received a stunning report from Ofsted in 2004 but the latest inspection shows improvements needed in every area of assessment except the behaviour and safety of pupils.

The report also stated that not enough pupils are making good progress in reading and mathematics in Year 3 to Year 6.

The quality of teaching also came under fire, with teachers not always providing challenging stimulus.

The report read: “Teachers do not always provide pupils with work that helps them to do their best. Teachers’ introductions and activities are often pitched too low and too many pupils find the work easy.”

Previously having received a ‘good’ performance rating, St Anne’s C of E Lydgate Primary School and St Anne’s RC Primary School, were also awarded a ‘requires improvement’ rating this time around.

Inspectors noted problems in reading and writing in both these primary schools and that not enough pupils achieve well over time in reading and writing.

Pupils also have limited vocabulary, punctuation skills and spelling ability at St Anne’s RC Primary School.

The teaching of letters and sounds at St Anne’s C of E Lydgate was seen as inconsistent.  Disabled pupils, those with special needs and pupils known to be eligible for pupil premium funding were also seen to make less progress than their peers in English and mathematics.

Yet, East Compton St James C of E Primary School received the most severe rating. Declared as ‘inadequate,’ the school requires special measures to be taken to improve the overall standards of teaching.

The report read: “School leaders and governors are not taking effective steps to secure teaching that is good or better for all groups of pupils, particularly in English.”

There were also overall concerns from inspectors about the leadership of the school and safeguarding of children. The report read: “Governors do not have the necessary skills to challenge the leader of the school to make improvements in teaching to raise pupils’ achievement.”

The only primary school to have received a good inspection rating in the October 2013 publication batch was Diggle School, which went from a ‘satisfactory’ rating to ‘good.’

Oldham Secondary’s, The Radclyffe School and Royton and Crompton School had a similar fate to their Primary counterparts. Both achieved a ‘required improvement’ rating following previously good reports.

A Section 8 Inspection to monitor progress was carried out at Royton and Crompton School last month, following a report that again labeled English as an area in need of improvement.

It read: “Students are not making enough progress in a number of subjects including English. This has resulted in GCSE results dropping to well below average.”

Whilst at The Radclyffe School incorrect English GCSE grade predictions have hidden weaknesses in teaching.

The report stated: “In English, leaders and managers have not assessed students’ progress accurately enough.

“This results in predictions for grades at GCSE that have been too high and, until recently, has prevented leaders and managers from identifying accurately what weaknesses need to be tackled.”

Head teacher of Radclyffe School, Mr Hayer, said of the latest report: “Whilst we may be disappointed that the current Ofsted grade does not truly reflect the vast improvements made at the school since the last Ofsted inspection in 2010, the grade is purely driven by the need to make improvements in English.

“This judgment is in line with our own self-evaluation and we believe it is fair. Our key priority is that students achieve above the national average in English in 2014 and beyond.”

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, said: “The claim that there is a trend of worsening Ofsted ratings for Oldham schools is inaccurate. It does not fit the data we have from Ofsted, which shows the majority of schools have received the same or better ratings since their last inspection. Furthermore the standard of English in our schools is in fact relatively strong.

“Since the new – much more difficult – Ofsted inspection regime was introduced in September 2012, the significant majority of schools were rated as good or outstanding and we have had some schools improve under the new framework.

“In cases where schools do require improvement Oldham Council takes swift and effective action to rectify the situation. All children in our Borough deserve an excellent standard of education, and we are committed to delivering that”.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We want every child in Oldham to get at least a good education. As part of Ofsted’s new regional structure we are in closer touch with schools, leaders, governors and councils to make sure that children have access to the high quality education they deserve.”

Image courtesy of Researching Media via Flickr, with thanks.

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