A Birmingham headteacher says her primary school has been ‘forced’ to become an academy following an Ofsted inspection. Kings Norton Primary School on Pershore Road South was rated as ‘inadequate’ when it was inspected on September 28 and 29, 2021.
The school was found to be ‘inadequate’ in three key areas, including quality of education, leadership and management and early years provision, something that staff disagreed with. They filed a complaint to Ofsted but this has been rejected. Personal development and behavior and attitudes were rated as ‘good’ at the school.
Pressures from the Covid pandemic have brought unprecedented difficulties for schools as they have faced closures, home schooling, issues with technology, sickness and changing rules on health and safety measures. It has left many schools facing a huge challenge to improve their standards.
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Almost 100 primary schools across the country have been rated ‘inadequate’ by the government’s education watchdog. Schools given these ratings are then automatically issued academy orders by the Department for Education.
The Ofsted report for Kings Norton Primary School said: “Teachers’ expectations of what pupils can achieve academically are not high enough. Pupils do not achieve as well as they should because of this.
“Leaders have not ensured that the curriculum is as ambitious and well planned as it needs to be in many subjects, including mathematics and reading. Governors have failed to hold leaders to account for the weaknesses in curriculum planning.
“The new headteacher and other leaders know what needs to improve and are anxious to move forward with their plans quickly. Leaders make sure that pupils are safe, happy and well behaved.
“Pupils have positive attitudes to learning. Teachers and support staff go out of their way to get to know pupils. As a result, they forge strong, trusting relationships with pupils. Pupils are polite and treat others with respect. They learn about what makes a good friend and how their actions and words can affect others. Pupils know that if bullying happens staff will sort it out quickly. Parents appreciate the caring ethos of the school, which is a strength. “
In a letter to parents in January, headteacher Dawn Chapman informed families of the ‘inadequate’ rating and said: “Due to this outcome, we will be” forced “to become an academy. The reason it has taken so long for you to hear about the report is because as a school we do not believe that we provide inadequate provision in any area, although we do acknowledge that the identified areas do require improvement.
“We have put in a complaint to Ofsted about their judgment and about how they carried out the inspection. Thus far they have rejected our complaints. All the areas identified by Ofsted had already been identified by us and we already had plans in place to address these areas. “
In the letter, Mrs Chapman countered areas of the report that staff disagreed with. She said she believed the school was criticized for its quality of education based on a phonics scheme teachers were in the process of updating and were due to start training the following week. She said that the scheme is now up and running and that they were seeing positive effects from it.
She alleged that moderation of children’s work had been ‘impossible’ for a large part of the previous two academic years, due to the pandemic, but that the school was heavily criticized for not having done this.
She added: “In the report the Ofsted inspectors say that staff do not have high enough expectations of the children, this is not true. This statement was based on some of the children’s work in books, we have taken time to revisit the presentation policy to amend it, we now have clear examples of how to set work out in all classrooms and teachers and teaching assistants model good practice. “
We talk to Birmingham headteacher Davinder Jandu about how to choose the best school for your child and what to do if your chosen school has had a negative Ofsted rating on the Brummie Mummies podcast here
Why ‘inadequate’ schools become academies
A spokesman on the Ofsted website said: “When we judge a school as inadequate, we place the school in a category of concern. This means that we judge the school either to have serious weaknesses or to require special measures.
“The Secretary of State for Education will issue an academy order to a maintained school judged inadequate and placed in a category of concern. The school will then become a sponsored academy. We will not usually monitor the school unless there are safeguarding concerns or there is a delay in school becoming a sponsored academy.
“If an academy is judged inadequate and placed in a category of concern, we will monitor the school. If an academy is judged inadequate and is rebrokered to a new multi-academy trust to become a new sponsored academy, we will not usually carry out any monitoring inspections.
“If an academy is judged as having serious weaknesses or requiring special measures, and if it is not rebrokered to a new multi-academy trust, we will monitor the school to check its progress. We will then carry out a section 5 inspection within 30 months of the publication of the academy’s previous section 5 report.
“If a maintained nursery school or a non-maintained special school that we inspect under section 5 is judged inadequate, we will monitor it in the same way as an academy judged as inadequate that is not re-brokered to a new sponsor trust.”
A spokesman on the Department for Education website said: “Academies receive funding directly from the government and are run by an academy trust. They have more control over how they do things than community schools. Academies do not charge fees.
“Academies are inspected by Ofsted. They have to follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as other state schools and students sit the same exams. Academies have more control over how they do things, for example they do not have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own term times.
“Some schools choose to become academies. If a school funded by the local authority is judged as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted then it must become an academy.”
What the school told BirminghamLive
Mrs Chapman told BirminghamLive: “Receiving the judgment in September 2021 was very disappointing. However, we are mindful that this inspection was eight months ago, which is a long time in the life of a young child and a busy, thriving school, which is why we have acted quickly and with purpose.
“School leaders have not delayed in implementing a robust post Ofsted action plan to address the areas for improvement within our wonderful school.
“Other responsive action includes installing an Interim Executive Board, which includes four experienced Head Teachers and a National Leader of Governance, to support and challenge school leaders whilst we work together to prepare for our school’s successful transition into the Elliott Foundation Academies Trust, where we will join a family of nine other West Midlands primary schools and look forward to a bright future and a continuance of our central role in our vibrant local community. “
A spokesman for Ofsted told BirminghamLive: “Kings Norton Junior and Infant School was inspected on 28/29 September 2021 and received an Inadequate judgment for the reasons set out in the inspection report. All our inspection reports are subject to a thorough quality assurance process to confirm the judgments prior to publication. “
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