Berwick Academy takes first steps towards '˜a new beginning'

Berwick Academy leaders have spoken of the need for '˜a new beginning' that a damning Ofsted report has brought about.

Tuesday, 27th March 2018, 14:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th March 2018, 14:18 pm
Berwick Academy

The school has been judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors and placed into special measures.

The report, published on Monday, heavily criticised the quality of leadership and teaching at the school, and raised serious concerns about pupil behaviour and pupil outcomes.

The school must now make rapid improvements, with key indicators to be checked by Ofsted on half-termly monitoring visits.

In a letter to parents, acting headteacher Steve Wilkes and chairman of governors David Cairns state: ‘If improvements are in line with expectations, the school should expect to secure a ‘Good’ grading in 18-24 months.

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‘If improvements are not rapid enough, further interventions will be imposed, including the taking over of the school’s governance and management by an external body and/or Academy chain; A need to work closely with, and guided by, the Department for Education (DfE), Ofsted, the Regional Schools Commission, and any other school improvement organisation that the DfE feels appropriate; A change in the leadership of the school.’

They continue: ‘We want the school to be a focus of local pride, a place that equips our young people to enrich their community and a place that Berwick deserves. A school that ultimately helps to attract people to the area.

‘Clearly, this judgment means that this is not currently the case. This must be seen as a watershed moment and a new beginning.

‘We see this as an opportunity to re-engage with our students, parents, teachers, the community, and external experts in a constructive and honest dialogue. What is not in question is the commitment to improve for all, moving forward.

‘There must be rapid changes, and this will challenge students, parents, and teachers. If we are successful, and we must be, because the education of our children is the most important responsibility, then it will be because we began to speak with one voice and our students feel both challenged and supported by us all.’

They gave assurances that the day-to-day running of the school will continue as normal and reveal that several changes have already been made as a matter of urgency since the resignation of headteacher Alexis Widdowson.

These include a review of safeguarding and a meeting with Northumbria Police regarding anti-social behaviour outside of school.

Staff have also undergone additional safeguarding training, there will be increased school counsellor hours from September and an anti-bullying programme is under way.

Uniform rules have been tightened and there is reduced tolerance of behaviours in lessons that stop others learning.

The next step is to hold a public meeting to discuss the situation and next steps. It is proposed that this takes place in the town hall, and a date is being sought as a matter of urgency for after the Easter break.