Academy turnaround is under way
Berwick Academy is taking positive steps to address the issues identified in a damning Ofsted report.
That is the view of acting headteacher Steve Wilkes who has been impressed by the reaction of students, parents and staff to the school being placed into special measures.
“Students have really stepped up to the challenge,” he said. “We are expecting much more from them around good learning behaviours, uniform and manners, and they are delivering. There is a real purpose about the place.”
This has been noticed by improvement partners E-Act, who say the school is ‘entirely different’ from the one described at the last Ofsted inspection, in terms of safeguarding and behaviour.
Mr Wilkes said that students had commented on the change in atmosphere in the school, staff have been working tirelessly to drive change and realise the objectives of the post-Ofsted statement of actions.
He acknowledged that work was a long way from finished and that the next steps were to tackle students with poor attendance, and work as a staff to ensure even more progress happens in lessons.
This will involve more planning for the needs of students and raising the resilience of students when faced with a challenge.
He said there was a feeling of unity in the staffroom about the journey ahead.
He added: “If staff and students respond like they have done already, then the future looks bright.
“This community deserves a high school that it can be proud of. Whilst many parents already feel this change is happening, for some, it is understandable that this will only be confirmed when the school achieves a ‘good’ Ofsted grading.”
Mr Wilkes also wanted to take the opportunity to thank the Berwick Partnership of heads and chairs of governors, who met with him and chairman of governors David Cairns on Friday.
In a meeting led by MP Ann-Marie Trevelyan, director of education Dean Jackson and Coun Wayne Daley, positive discussions were held about strengthening links between schools, engaging business and community, and beginning the conversation about a new-build for the Academy.
The school was labelled ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in late March, just weeks after the resignation of headteacher Alexis Widdowson.
Inspectors heavily criticised the quality of leadership and teaching, and raised serious concerns about pupil behaviour and pupil outcomes.
Teacher Ged Thomas (letters, page 16), who is currently away from school for personal reasons, has also voiced serious concerns about the school’s leadership aand questioned how much can be achieved by a team of staff and governors which hasn’t changed very much since the inspection.
‘The astonishing decline in standards has been fully evident and in plain sight of pupils, parents, staff and unquestionably the school leaders and the governors for several years,’ he writes. ‘This is further supported by long-standing concerns that have been raised with the school by Northumberland County Council, five previous Ofsted reports, concerns from the Trades Unions, The Regional Schools Commissioner, local councillors and numerous complaints raised by pupils, parents and staff.’