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Strong leadership

Ofsted inspection finds tangible evidence of progress for disadvantaged students

Posted by Stephanie Broad | June 19, 2015 | Teaching

An Ofsted inspection at William Howard School on 6 May has found tangible evidence of positive and effective procedures for its disadvantaged students.

The one-day visit by HM Inspectors is one of a number of similar inspections suddenly undertaken at schools in Cumbria to review the achievement of disadvantaged students and also to examine the relevant aspects of the quality of leadership and management.

A larger than average secondary school, William Howard School has over 1400 students. It has a significantly lower than average number of pupils eligible for pupil premium, which is the additional funding given to schools to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the gap between them and their peers. In 2014 WHS had 22 students classed as disadvantaged out of a year group of 239.

Inspectors scrutinised the school’s procedures for safeguarding, development plans and data relating to the attendance of disadvantaged children.  It was noted that the Head of School and the leadership team had recognised that systems for tracking and supporting these students needed refocusing and as a result that they had swiftly introduced a number of strategies that were already having a positive impact.

The school and Trust’s approach to external support and its “readiness to invite critical evaluation to continually review the provision for disadvantaged students” was highlighted as tangible evidence of the school’s commitment to delivering improvement plans. 

In addition, the school’s academy status plus its ability to adapt the curriculum to meet the needs of local employment opportunities for school leavers was noted as “helping to accelerate progress and reducing the number of disadvantaged children not going into education, training or employment.”

  • Special mention was made of a number of strengths at William Howard School aimed at ensuring its disadvantaged students achieve their potential.  These included:
  • Strong pastoral support for looked after children to help to support their learning and increase their attendance
  • Excellent safeguarding arrangements for all pupils
  • Committed leadership by the Head of School and senior team in improving the achievement of disadvantaged pupils
  • Robust and well supported transition for students moving from Key Stage 4 to Key Stage 5, which includes strong information, advice and guidance.
  • Timely and well focused coordination by leaders and teaching staff which results in disadvantaged pupils gaining the appropriate support to make progress
  • The reflective pursuit of best practice and openness to new ideas.

The Head of the school, Domenic Volpe, was pleased with the overall outcome of the inspection saying: “The review from Ofsted is a very accurate reflection of our own assessment of the effectiveness of our provision for disadvantaged students.

“We have a continuous process of review and reflection so that we can accelerate further the pace of improvement at all levels.  Our links with supporting organisations play a significant part in this along with our governors who are recognised as being both challenging and supportive.“

William Howard School is part of William Howard Trust, a multi-academy trust, formed in 2014 following the invitation by the Department for Education to sponsor the new Workington Academy when it opens in September.  More recently, it was invited to sponsor Yewdale Primary School in Carlisle, which will also convert to academy status at the start of the new academic year. 

Executive Headteacher for William Howard School and CEO of William Howard Trust, Lorrayne Hughes, added: “I am very pleased that the Ofsted team recognised the strengths of the school. Our staff, children and Governors have been working hard to ensure that every one of our students gets the best possible education and start in life and we will be giving the recommendations Ofsted have prioritised our full attention.”    

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