The latest Gloucester Academy Ofsted report is very disappointing. Effectively it puts the school back into special measures. So how to react? I believe:
1. No denial
The key issue is a minority of pupils who don’t attend or who are disruptive (mostly outside lessons). While humanities results are good, core English and Maths results need to be better. Engagement with parents has been good but needs to expand to a wider community showing what opportunities are out there later in life
2. Have a plan
Interim Head Andy Vinton showed me during half term some of the changes he’ll be implementing to the school schedule, to lunch and break times, to raising aspiration and helping those with English as second language issues. Staff I met were equally positive: they want to succeed.
3. Nil Desperandum
There are good things in the report too. Anyone reading the headlines will miss the A level results that were ‘significantly better’ than the national average. That is an achievement, with other successes e.g. in sport and drama, to be proud of. It shows what can be done.
Andy has been involved in teaching in our city and county for a long time. He knows what the journey from a low to a high rating looks like: he’s helped pupils with all sorts of needs and he is determined to get the Academy to the right place with Ofsted Inspectors, and with lots of help from the White Horse Federation.
I come from a family with many teachers. I’ve visited every school in Gloucester and want all of them to succeed. There is no value in bashing any school after results that could or should be better: for me it’s about engaging, understanding the issues and seeing what might be done to help that school get a better result next time.
Every school is also a partnership - between sponsor (White Horse Federation), governors, teachers, parents and pupils. Parents can help hugely by helping motivate children to learn the skills they’ll need later for good jobs and opportunities by encouraging attendance and good behaviour.
One mother wrote to me about how happy her children are there and how she hopes negative media perceptions won’t damage their feelings about the school. So do I: this is the moment for the while GA Community to pull together for success.
And above all the GA partnership should have faith. In 2009 one of the two GA predecessor schools had the second worst results in the country. The Gloucester Academy is a long way from that today, with much further to go. If A level results can be significantly better than the national average then anything is possible.