Published: March 27, 2012
Highbridge school says damning Ofsted report is "inaccurate"

Highbridge's Churchfield School is "failing to deliver a satisfactory standard of education" and has been placed under special measures by government education inspectors from Ofsted.

But the damning new report on the school, which has been published this week by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, has been formally challenged by the school, which claims it is "inaccurate" and full of "sweeping generalisations".

Churchfield has been given the lowest score possible for its overall effectiveness and the report also says the achievement of pupils, quality of teaching and leadership are "ineffective" while behaviour and pupil safety are "satisfactory."

Ofsted's report says that the "school requires special measures because it is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement."

It goes on to claim that the school "does not provide an adequate quality of education" and that "pupils at the end of year 6 are significantly below the national average."

On the positive side, Ofsted says pupils behave satisfactorily and are respectful of each other and it goes on to state "school leaders and managers ensure that pupils are kept safe."

Publication of the final report has been delayed after the school formally challenged the findings in its initial draft document.

In an open letter to all parents, headteacher Wendy Nelder said this week: "It has been challenged by the school because of the sweeping generalisations made throughout its contents and the inaccuracies it contains."

"Many of the conclusions drawn by the inspectors were based on very little evidence and do not, we feel, paint an accurate picture of what is actually happening."

"The report has been changed since it was first sent to us but, even this week, when we received the final copy, we had to approach Ofsted again for small, but significant, corrections to be made."

Referring to the recent amalgamation of St John's School and Beechfield School, she added: "The governors, staff, parents and pupils have worked very hard to bring two schools together over the last 18 months and have achieved a great deal - something the inspectors made no reference to and refused to acknowledge as the significant task all of us know it was."

"I am confident that this drive, enthusiasm and dedication to serving the needs of the children in Highbridge will enable us to continue to improve, move into our wonderful new building and come out of special measures well within the given timescale."

The report has outlined a number of recommendations for how the school can improve. These include raising pupils' attainment and progress, improving its effectiveness of leadership and management, and improving its quality of teaching.

Ofsted's inspectors compiled the report by observing teaching and learning in sixteen lessons. They made short observations of group work and 17 teachers were observed over a period of 10 hours. Inspectors also held discussions with Churchfield's governing body, pupils, parents and staff. Questionnaire responses from 94 parents and 52 staff were also reviewed. invited Somerset County Council's education department to comment on the report this week, but no response was received.


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