Ofsted ‘fails to recognise pupils’ progress’ says head

Caistor Yarborough Academy headteacher Jeremy Newnham EMN-150705-121138001
Caistor Yarborough Academy headteacher Jeremy Newnham EMN-150705-121138001

The headteacher of a popular secondary school has hit out at an “unfair” Ofsted system which he says does not recognise pupils’ progress.

Caistor Yarborough Academy (CYA) headteacher Jeremy Newnham says schools like his have a “distorted” intake of pupils with many of the most capable pupils in the town going to the grammar school.

He says this means it is more difficult to meet national averages in exams - and the current system does not look at the progress pupils have made since starting at the school.

His comments come after the school’s latest Ofsted inspection report, which said CYA still ‘requires improvement’.

Mr Newnham said: “A lot of secondary modern schools are suffering because (Ofsted says) every student should be at the national average - having a distorted intake means that for quite a few secondary modern schools it’s very difficult to get the national average when they start significantly below it.

“Selection definitely has its part to play - that’s not to say that our English and science departments are not well above the national average.”

He said many grammar schools are awarded ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted but that it is difficult to find schools like his that are given the same rating.

He said: “The amount of effort from my staff is so high. It’s an unfair system because it doesn’t take into account the starting point of the students.

“The way it is, progress isn’t being recognised.

“Kids at the grammar schools could do the exam with one eye closed and still get a pass.

“It’s how many kids get over a bar.

“I’m surprised that more grammar schools don’t get 100 per cent A to C when we get 60 per cent.”

The latest report said the school needed to make improvements in maths, history, French, Spanish and religious education - but that teacher groups had been set up to “research best practice and to then share their findings with other members of staff”.

It stated: “The deputy headteacher is overseeing a programme of professional development for middle leaders, particularly in improving their ability to evaluate the quality of teaching; identifying opportunities to better meet individual students’ needs; and to 
better analyse student progress data.

“The deputy headteacher is more rigorously holding middle leaders to account for students’ achievement.

“In school data show that better progress is being made overall.”

Mr Newnham said he was happy with the report.

He said: “We’re pleased with the letter, which says we’re taking effective action.”

Mr Newnham said a new system set to come in in the future would reflect more fairly how much progress students have made.

He added that all students at CYA go on to do “something positive” such as sixth form, college or an 
apprenticeship.