‘We’ll turn our school around,’ pledges head

Special measures: Highfield Humanities College received a damning report from Ofsted inspectors. Below: Headteacher Ian Evans
Special measures: Highfield Humanities College received a damning report from Ofsted inspectors. Below: Headteacher Ian Evans

A Blackpool secondary school has been slammed as being “ineffective and inadequate” and placed into special measures by Ofsted – the third school in the resort to be given the lowest rating in just 18 months.

Highfield Humanities College, South Shore, had an unannounced visit in early October, where inspectors reported seeing “poor” behaviour, “inadequate” teaching, and “ineffective” leadership using “inaccurate” evaluation.

Highfield and St. George's High Schools are going head-to-head after both winning through to the regional finals of a Young Enterprise competition.'"Rival' Heads Ian Evans from Highfield, Liz Warner from St. George's and their teams. PIC BY ROB LOCK

Highfield and St. George's High Schools are going head-to-head after both winning through to the regional finals of a Young Enterprise competition.'"Rival' Heads Ian Evans from Highfield, Liz Warner from St. George's and their teams. PIC BY ROB LOCK

​The visit also noted a dip in GCSE results this summer and the Highfield Road school will now be ​monitored more frequently by the independent inspectorate.

School bosses have promised to do all in their power to turn around the fortunes of the school, including having already brought in a consultant to support senior leaders and teachers.

After its previous inspection, in April 2013, Highfield was told it required improvement but has since failed to do so as “leadership has been ineffective in securing essential improvements”, Ofsted reported.

The report also noted:

Not enough students make the progress they should ... in particular boys and disadvantaged students

Teaching is inadequate and too few teachers plan lessons that interest students

The behaviour of a minority of students is inadequate and some students report that behaviour is poor and adversely affects learning

Leaders’ evaluation of the school’s effectiveness is inaccurate and is based on poor analysis

Governors have been ineffective

The classification is the most severe issued by Ofsted, and two other resort schools – Montgomery High School in Bispham, and the now defunct Bispham High School – were placed in special measures recently.

Before that no secondary schools in the borough had been placed in the category.

Highfield, which is the resort’s only remaining local authority run secondary school, the other six are academies, has been defended by its headteacher, chairman of governors and Blackpool Council’s director of children’s services.

All have promised to “challenge” themselves and the school and “work tirelessly” to turn things around.

Headteacher Ian Evans said he, staff, governors and pupils would work “incredibly hard” to ensure the school reaches “the highest standards”.

He added: “I acknowledge the recent dip in results was the contributing factor to the judgement the inspectors have made.

“While disappointing, the outcome was not surprising and areas of concern in the report were already under scrutiny by the school and steps are in place to improve them.”

The school this summer saw a dip in GCSE results, and also has “stubbornly low” attendance levels and “poor” behaviour, which influenced the report’s outcome.

Prior to the Ofsted visit the school had already taken on a consultant, a former headteacher with expertise in working with schools in challenging circumstances, to work with leaders.

And a new system of assessment, running every six weeks, has been brought in to give “rapid feedback” on pupil’s progress, after Ofsted said school leaders did not have an “accurate picture” of children’s achievements.

The school has also increased its work with “outside agencies” to improve attendance, which bosses said would both boost “school figures” and ensure teachers know pupils “are where they should be and are safe”.

Leaders had been told their work to keep students safe was “inadequate”.

Mr Evans added: “We are determined to bring our grades up and see overall improvement throughout the school.

“We are disappointed Ofsted did not recognise and praise our extra-curricular and enrichment programmes.”

Chairman of governors Alan Fisher said the governing body was “totally committed” to the school’s improvement, despite the body having been deemed “ineffective” in challenging leaders to improve the school.

Delyth Curtis, Blackpool Council’s director of children’s services, said: “This latest Ofsted report is, of course, extremely disappointing.

“We are working closely with the headteacher and the governing body to develop their ‘Accelerated Action Plan’ and will be challenging them to make sure that we start to see the improvements taking place soon.

“Our number one priority, as always, is the students and this remains our focus.

“As a council, we are committed to making sure every child in Blackpool gets a good education.”