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Struggling school has ‘turned the corner’ says watchdog

Date published: 26 March 2019


A struggling Heywood school has been praised for ‘turning a corner’ – but the education watchdog warned there is still much work to do.

Siddal Moor Sports College received back-to-back Ofsted ratings of ‘requires improvement’ following inspections carried out in 2015 and 2017.

And officials recently returned to the Newhouse Road school to carry out a ‘monitoring visit’ in order to track the progress it was making.

Their report notes that standards at the school ‘declined’ since the last full inspection in October 2017, and this had  been reflected in the poor progress made by children last year.

Significant concerns remain around pupil absences, teachers’ expectations, classroom behaviour and governance at the school.

But despite the long-running problems, inspectors says the school is now pulling out all the stops in order to make the required improvements.

Interim headteacher Simon White – who took up the top role in January 2018 – said he was pleased efforts to get the school ‘back on track’ had been recognised by officicals.

And the inspection report – addressed to Mr White – praises the direction he has taken the school since becoming head.

It says: “Since your appointment as interim headteacher, you have taken swift action to stem the decline in standards and begin to improve the school.

“With the support of a strengthened leadership team, you are winning the support of staff and pupils. You have been honest with staff about the need to secure rapid improvement.”

Officials found that morale at Siddal Moor was improving, with both pupils and teachers saying they were confident the school was ‘getting better’.

The report added: “There is no doubt that pupils, staff and governors are more determined than ever to make Siddal Moor Sports College a good school. Standards at the school have turned a corner.”

But it said there was still ‘considerable work’ to do, if long-running issues were to be addressed.

The school has been ordered to to reduce rates of absence – particularly for disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs and disabilities.

And inspectors say that, while there has been some improvement in the quality of the teaching, the school must have ‘consistently high expectations of what pupils can achieve’.

Steps to improve behaviour at the school have been found to be working well, but the rate of exclusions ‘remains high’ – and inspectors want to see this come down.

Governors are also urged to hold school leaders to account ‘consistently and effectively’.

Responding to the report, Mr White said: “Although we are obviously disappointed with the overall judgement of the monitoring visit, we are pleased with Ofsted’s recognition of the work we have recently undertaken which is getting the school back on track.

“Governors, senior managers and I are wholly committed to our plan to improve the school. I’ve been in post just over a year and I’m pleased with the progress made so far; it’s been a real team effort and it gives us a good trajectory for further improvement.”

He added: “We are committed to improving pupil attendance, behaviour and achievements and our journey to success will be a whole community one and I know that we can get there.”

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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