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Melksham schools accept damning Ofsted reports and vow to improve

HEADTEACHERS have expressed their disappointment following recent Ofsted reports which heavily criticised teaching standards, leadership and management in six Melksham schools.

Seven of the eight schools which are in The Academy Trust of Melksham, were inspected by Ofsted in April with two rated ‘inadequate’, four rated ‘requires improvement’ and just one rated as ‘good’.

But heads have vowed to put things right and said that by the next inspection they are determined that all the schools will be rated good.

Seend Primary School was graded ‘good’; but Bowerhill Primary School, Melksham Oak,  St Mary’s in Broughton Gifford, and Shaw Primary School were all graded ‘requires improvement’  and St. George’s Primary School and The Manor were graded ‘inadequate’ and will go into special measures.

The eighth school in the Trust, Forest and Sandridge, was not due for an inspection.

Tough messages

Paul White, chair of trustees of the Academy Trust of Melksham (ATOM), said, “While these reports gave us praise for some really strong points, overall there are some very tough messages for many of our member schools and therefore for ATOM as an academy trust. These tough messages are a chance for improvement. We will use them to learn how we can give the best possible education to all the children within our communities.

“While we are obviously dissatisfied with the overall outcome, we will also remain aware of our strengths. Across our academies, pupils are safe, feel safe, behave respectfully to one another and adults, and take pride in their schools. Vulnerable and special needs pupils are well cared for and helped to achieve their best.


“Let me be clear, also, that we accept the result of the inspection. It was a challenging one, but a fair one. We will make things better and are determined that all our schools will be rated ‘good’ by our next Ofsted because our priority is the best possible outcomes for the children we educate.”

Headteacher at Melksham Oak, Stephen Clark said, “As a school we found the inspection helpful and agree with the judgement that we can improve. Although it is always tough to receive a ‘requires improvement’ report, along with my colleagues, the governors and trustees, I will use this as an opportunity to drive up standards and deliver the best possible outcome for our pupils.”

Andrew Matthews, headteacher at Bowerhill Primary School said, “It’s a report with a tough conclusion, saying that Bowerhill School  ‘requires improvement’. That’s a hard message, especially when the report has so many positive things to say about Bowerhill School.

“At the same time, it’s a report that I, my staff, governors, and trustees will use as an opportunity to learn how we can deliver the best possible education for our pupils. We’ll work on the areas Ofsted identifies as needing improvement, and we’ll keep the highest standards in the areas where it praises us.

Work hard

“We will work hard to address the report’s findings. The whole staff team and the governors have already started work on our action plan and are unanimous in their commitment to return Bowerhill Primary School to a ‘Good’ Ofsted judgement as soon as possible.”

Headteacher at Shaw Primary School, Simon White said, “We can be nothing other than disappointed that the inspectors judged the weaknesses in some areas of the school to outweigh the strengths.

“This is especially disappointing when the report acknowledges that the steps we are currently taking are starting to have a positive impact.

“All the same, we will use this tough inspection as an opportunity to drive improvements and ensure all our pupils get the best possible education.”

Headteacher at The Manor School, Kerry Haines said, “We are clearly very disappointed that the inspectors reached a decision that the school requires ‘special measures.’ However, we are determined to all pull together in order to make the required improvements as outlined by Ofsted. We are confident we can rapidly make the improvements required.”

Moving forward

Nathan Hall, chair of members of the Academy Trust of Melksham (ATOM), added, “We are giving our schools a stronger structure and stronger support at the top level.

“The two schools to go into special measures will now have access to specialist outside help on school improvement.

“The reports recognised the need to provide greater leadership capacity to drive real improvement across our schools, so we are in the process of recruiting an interim chief executive officer. This post has been advertised in the Times’ Educational Supplement. We aim to appoint someone who will start in September, with a permanent CEO in place by January 2018.

“We are reviewing our relationship with governing bodies to ensure we can act more swiftly and decisively when we see problems developing. Our plan for a changed and improved relationship will be in place by 1st September for the new academic year.

“Governance has already been strengthened in the two schools going into special measures, with interim boards in place for each. Individual improvement plans for each school are already in place. We have identified, in each of our schools, the key issues to further improve teaching and to challenge our pupils to progress more quickly. Trustees and local governing bodies will monitor these action plans closely and ensure they are put into action.

“We know that we can count on the support of our wonderful parents and staff as we accept this challenge to drive improvement in all our schools.”

You can read all the reports by visiting https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/