School’s in special measures

Hilderthorpe school Sign 'PA1128-12
Hilderthorpe school Sign 'PA1128-12

RACISM, homophobic language and bullying are among the problems identified at a Bridlington primary school – which has now been placed in special measures by Ofsted.

Inspectors visited Hilderthorpe Primary in May and leading inspector Lesley Clark identified a number of serious issues at the school – including bad behaviour, overall low attainment and poor attendance among a “significant minority” of pupils.

But the headteacher and chairman of governors have defended the school, saying they were disappointed with the inspection and changes have already been put in place to rectify the problems.

In the report, the school’s overall effectiveness was graded “inadequate”, as was its capacity for sustained improvement, while pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development was also given the lowest possible grade.

Ofsted inspector Ms Clark wrote: “Pupils say that outside lessons, behaviour is not good enough.

“They say ‘people who are bullied get used to it; it’s part of their day’.

“Some pupils are not self-disciplined and act irresponsibly in the playground and in the corridors.

“Their poor behaviour and impoliteness occur more frequently than on very isolated occasions.”

Ms Clark stated that some pupils openly flouted the school rules because inappropriate behaviour sometimes went unchecked.

She continued: “Some pupils show little regard for others’ feelings and consequently name-calling, racist incidents and homophobic comments take place.”

Attendance, the extent to which pupils feel safe and their progress and behaviour were all deemed “inadequate”.

Only the Early Years Foundation Stage rose above the satisfactory level and was judged as “good” by inspectors.

Hilderthorpe Primary School headteacher Sue Everson said she was extremely disappointed with the

inspection. But she added some issues highlighted by Ofsted had already been addressed and strategies had already been implemented.

She said: “We have all worked hard since the amalgamation of the junior and infant school to bring the schools together to form a primary school that addressed the needs of the children as both schools had very different philosophies.

“The governors of the school have been very supportive in what was a very challenging task to try to adapt and meet the needs of all pupils.

“We spent time focusing on teaching and learning, which was judged by Ofsted as good in foundation and satisfactory in the rest of the school, showing that we have done well where we concentrated our attention.

“We have now put actions and strategies in place to deal with the other issues highlighted by Ofsted to show we have moved forward.

“I am sure with the dedication of the staff and the support of the pupils and governors we will make vigorous and rapid progress.”

Andrew Dixon, chairman of governors, said he was “bitterly disappointed” at the decision to place the school in special measures.

He said: “The headteacher and leadership team have worked extremely hard since September 2009 to amalgamate two schools with markedly different cultures and teaching styles.

“I am bitterly disappointed with Ofsted’s decision, which I don’t believe accurately reflects the quality of care and support the staff provide for the children.

“Unfortunately there is no right of appeal or access to a second opinion.

“I am pleased that Ofsted recognised that teaching and learning is at least satisfactory and the quality of provision at foundation level is good.

“We are determined to work with the local authority and Her Majesty’s Inspector to move forward and bring the school out of special measures as quickly as possible.”

Mike Furbank, head of improvement and learning at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The council is always unhappy when the provision at one of its schools is judged to be inadequate and we will work tirelessly with the school to bring about the improvements that are identified within the report.”

He said before the report was published, the school had already been working hard to improve and that all areas of practice related to safeguarding have now been thoroughly reviewed and improved.

He added the ongoing improvement of the school, with the support of the local authority, would hopefully bring Hilderthorpe Primary out of special measures “as rapidly as possible”.