Leaders at Bury St Edmunds school feel ‘vindicated’ after Ofsted finds key improvements

Geoff Barton
Geoff Barton
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Leaders of a Bury school which was rated ‘inadequate’ in a controversial Ofsted report say they feel ‘vindicated’ after an inspection found key improvements.

Inspectors ruled that the drive and commitment of the leadership team at Hardwick Middle School, in Mayfield Road, have ‘united the staff, raised their aspirations and improved the learning experiences and achievement of pupils’.

They moved the school up a grade to ‘requires improvement’ after it was rated ‘inadequate’ at the start of the year, which was challenged by executive headteacher Geoff Barton.

He felt the watchdog had focused ‘too much on historic results rather than the progress of current students’ but his complaint was not upheld.

Mr Barton, who is head at King Edward VI School, said: “After a pretty punishing Ofsted earlier in the year, it is a big vindication of the decisions we’ve been making.

“It’s a sign of how with more time we could continue to improve the school.”

Mr Barton has been working with Hardwick’s head Rachel Forward ahead of its closure next year as the majority of ther town moves to two tier education.

Inspectors found that this year the proportion of pupils who made expected progress and more than expected progress in reading, writing and mathematics increased from 2014.

However, the proportion ‘remained below the national average and too many pupils did not make enough progress’.

They noted that scrutiny of Year 8 English and maths work and information from testing carried out by King Edward VI School ‘shows that they begin Year 9 with attainment in line with their peers’.

As Ofsted rankings are linked to results, Mr Barton thinks, based on the school’s current trajectory, it could eventually have scored a higher rating.

He said: “In all of the key areas you would want as a parent - behaviour, teaching standards and leadership the school has been doing better than it has been in the past.

“It was important for the governors, students and teachers there.

“The teachers have been incredibly loyal - where you quite often get a haemorrhaging of staff in the middle schools (which are closing), they have stuck with it.

“It isn’t about me or Rachel, it’s about that school showing that when it closes, it will be improving faster than it has done in recent years. We’re going to be increasing that momentum.”