Bury St Edmunds school in Ofsted row is ‘making improvements’

Geoff Barton
Geoff Barton
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A Bury St Edmunds school which was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in a controversial report is making improvements.

Hardwick Middle School, in Mayfield Road, was found to ‘require improvement’ in leadership and management, pupil behaviour and quality of teaching while pupil achievement was ‘inadequate’ following an inspection in January.

The gradings were challenged by the school’s executive head Geoff Barton who thought Ofsted focused ‘too much on historic results rather than the progress of current students’. His complaint was not upheld.

The controversial report did note that the then recently appointed head Rachel Forward, senior leaders and governors had ‘identified the right priorities for improving the quality of teaching’ and ‘standards are rising’.

Following a monitoring inspection in March, Lesley Daniel, associate inspector for Ofsted, recognised that improvements to teaching have continued. In a letter, she said: “Visits to mathematics and English lessons, in particular, showed that more-able students were challenged by the work set and were well motivated to learn. Books showed evidence that many had made sustained progress from September 2014. Progress in books is not as evident for less-able students.”

Teachers’ assessments show the ‘gaps between the progress of disadvantaged students and other students in the school are closing’.

The school is due to close next year as the majority of the town moves to two tier education. In light of this, the inspector said the approach to curriculum planning and ensuring staffing is appropriate is ‘creative and maximises resources available’.

Mr Barton, who is also head at King Edward VI School, said: “We’re very pleased that the initial monitoring visit - held just 10 days after the Ofsted report was published - contains so many positive messages about the progress our school is making. We’re still deeply dissatisfied with January’s Ofsted inspection, but this follow-up visit recognises what students, parents, governors and staff know - that this is a great school on a mission to keep getting better. We continue to focus relentlessly on what really matters, and this report helps us to feel really optimistic about our approach.”