Headteacher defends Bury St Edmunds middle school over Ofsted judgement

Howard Middle School, Beard Road, Bury St Edmunds. ENGANL00120130529150323
Howard Middle School, Beard Road, Bury St Edmunds. ENGANL00120130529150323
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A Bury St Edmunds headteacher is to formally challenge an Ofsted report which judged his middle school ‘requires improvement’.

Greg Sadler, of Howard Middle, says the watchdog just took account of attainment at the end of Key Stage 2, which is below the national floor standard, when making its judgement - but should have considered pupil progress over the four years at the school.

Following an inspection in February, inspectors found that ‘attainment at the end of Key Stage 2 is too low and pupils do not make enough progress in their first two years at the school to fill the gaps in their learning’.

They added: “By the time they leave the school at the end of Year 8, however, pupils have made more rapid progress and achieve levels broadly in line for their age in mathematics and reading.”

Looking at subsidiary guidance from Ofsted,Mr Sadler said: “If you inspect a middle school you’re supposed to look at progress across Year 5 entry to exit at Year 8 - not just from Year 5 to taking SATs in May in Year 6.”

The report also notes ‘subject leaders do not know precisely what they need to do to tackle weaknesses in teaching’. It later adds: “Senior leaders have not been afraid to take difficult decisions to eliminate inadequate teaching.” Among the school’s strengths, ‘teachers give pupils good advice on how they can improve their work’ and the ‘strong spritual, moral, social and cultural education supports pupils’ personal development’.

Mr Sadler said: “The inspection team agreed with me the pupils in Years 5 and 6 make three years progress in just two years. These pupils would had to have made four years progress in just two years to reach the nationally recognised floor target. In the past 12 months Howard and its feeder primaries are working closer together to share best practice to ensure children are able to attain age related levels at the end of Key Stage 2. We will continue to use strategies that we know support our pupils with their learning and take action on some of the comments in the report.”

Helen Stacy, parent governor, said they are making progress between Howard Middle and the primary schools which is ‘bringing results’. She added: “We will be very close to floor this year and next year’s SATs are very likely to exceed the floor targets.”

An Ofsted spokesman said they do not comment on individual reports.