Second flagship school slammed by inspectors

INSPECTION: Lostock Hall

INSPECTION: Lostock Hall

A second flagship academy has been branded inadequate.

Now County Hall chiefs want answers from the Government.

Days after the county’s only sponsored academy, Fulwood, was slammed, Ofsted has called for improvements at Lostock Hall Academy.

The school, in Todd Lane North, was one of the first secondaries awarded outstanding status by Ofsted and so was able to become an academy.

However, in a damning report, inspectors say standards have plummeted, with even previously high-flying scholars now failing to make the grade.

Last year the school was satisfactory but now requires special measures to improve.

The inspectors pointed out that there have been three headteachers in the past 18 months, leaving the school without clear direction. During a two-day inspection an Ofsted team found: “There were unacceptably large gaps in achievement between different groups of students, especially in English.”

They added that boys lagged well behind girls “which in itself is not good enough”.

Teaching was berated for “not being focused enough” on removing the gaps and teachers’ expectations of students was said to be too low.

School leaders and governors were criticised for letting the decline in standards go on for too long.

Headteacher Gig Brimelow, who was appointed acting head in July and formally made headteacher last month, said: “Being put in special measures is disappointing, but I feel strongly, and the inspection team confirmed in their report, that we are moving in the right direction now.

“Our results are stronger this year after a dip in 2012, although we still have some catching up to do.We have clear expectations and targets for development and much more rigorous systems for monitoring and developing the quality of our teaching, and I am glad that the inspectors could already see these beginning to have an impact on progress.”

She added: “The inspectors heaped praise upon our students, describing them as ‘responsive, respectful and reliable’, happy to come to school and eager to learn, with good behaviour, attendance and punctuality. With such exceptional students at the heart of the school, I am confident we will succeed in our task. They deserve the very best education we can give them and we are determined to provide it, with the help of our dedicated staff and governors.”

The academy was awarded ‘good’ for the category of ‘behaviour and safety of pupils’. The inspectors wrote: “Students show great respect to one another and their teachers. Students are polite and sociable. They show pride in their school and say that they feel safe.”

Lancashire County Council has been at loggerheads with the Government over the low number of academies – with more than 640 schools, only 26 are academies. Coun Matthew Tomlinson, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for children and schools, said the council had written to the Department for Education to “challenge them about what they are doing to monitor standardise in academies in Lancashire, because that is their job.

If one of our schools was in special measures they would be challenging us. Now the boot is on the other foot”.

Coun Tomlinson said the authority had been visited by Ofsted brokers from the DfE concerned about “Lancashire’s lack of progress in persuading schools to become academies”.

Coun Tomlinson said: “We are not anti-academies. The Government’s view is that academisation is the only future, we in Lancashire don’t agree. For me, this just shows it.”

He added he was concerned about the education of all Lancashire schoolchildren and wanted to know what they (the Government) are going to do about it.

A DfE spokesman said: “When schools apply to become academies, each application is judged on its own merits and this will continue to be the case when schools in Lancashire apply.

“There is no link between these schools becoming academies, and the judgements made by Ofsted inspectors.”




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