Parents back Ofsted’s brutal criticism of Littleport school
- Credit: Archant
Ofsted pulled no punches in its assessment of Littleport and East Cambs Academy (LECA) describing it as ‘inadequate’ in three of the four main categories.
And in the fourth it simply states ‘requires improvement’.
Active Learning Trust who run the four-year-old academy say they have a “robust improvement plan” to turn it round.
More than 80 parents gave their views to Ofsted, with only a third able to say they would recommend the school to others.
Half the pupils are said to be unhappy, and only nine per cent of parents of children with special educational needs (SEND) say they get the support they need.
Lauren Phillips took over as principal in March – the same month as the Ofsted inspection.
"Our top priorities are to improve behaviour, increase pride in the school and build up the trust of the school community,” she said.
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“I believe in never giving up and always providing a fresh start and it is this mentality that is underpinning our new journey for LECA.
“Progress has been made this term but there is still a great to do and some actions we are undertaking will take some time to embed.”
Ofsted says bluntly the school does not provide students with “an acceptable education.
"This disappoints pupils, most of whom attend regularly and are keen to learn.
“Pupils get frustrated by leaders’ and teachers’ low expectations of what they can achieve and learn.
“The curriculum limits what many pupils can learn as well as their potential examination results.”
Ofsted heard from students who “expressed concern over not being taught the material needed to achieve the highest levels of success at GCSE.
“This is a source of frustration for parents too.”
Ofsted also points to disruption in lessons which they found “is too commonplace.
“Staff are not well trained to manage this behaviour effectively, so pupils lose too much learning time.”
Ofsted points to things the school does well and says the curriculum is well organised in most subjects.
"In many subjects, however, teachers lack the expertise needed to deliver the curriculum well enough,” it concludes.
“Many teachers do not quickly identify when pupils have not learned or remembered something that has been taught.
“Consequently, pupils fall behind. When teachers do spot pupils falling behind, many teachers do not use effective teaching approaches to help pupils quickly catch up.”
Ofsted says the provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) is of poor quality.
The school takes “too long” to identify these pupils’ needs and there is not enough staff to teach them.
"Pupils told inspectors that poor behaviour in lessons regularly disrupts learning,” says Ofsted.
“Inspectors found this to be the case. Teachers’ inconsistent approach to managing behaviour leaves pupils confused.”
Pupils are removed from lessons and left without teaching.
Even during break times “behaviour is often too rowdy.
“Some pupils use unacceptable language and make unkind remarks towards others”.
Ofsted also criticises the failure of students to “understand the importance of fundamental British values, particularly the value of tolerance”.
Progress is being made to “change the school’s approach to supporting people who have characteristics protected by the Equality Act.
“For example, there is a well-attended support group for pupils who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender”.
And there are other positives such as sports clubs, Spanish clubs and an ‘eco club’.
One in four pupils in key stage 3 are also taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.
There is also good support for those looking for careers or further education.
However, says Ofsted, “the poor curriculum limits how well pupils are prepared for adult life”.
Ofsted also blames the school for not engaging effectively with parents - “many parents commented on Ofsted’s online survey about the shortcomings at the school.
“Too many parents feel that leaders do not deal with their concerns.
“Communication between school and parents has been too infrequent”.
And there is also criticism of staff workloads which Ofsted has not been managed well.
The report says that in 2021, trustees identified substantial weaknesses at the school and replaced the local governing body with a new board.
Since then, the leadership team at the school has changed and introduced new policies.
And it says changes made at the top means the academy has a “clear grasp of the many weaknesses in the school.
“Their actions, while in their infancy, are bringing about improvements”.
Craig D'Cunha, executive head and deputy CEO of the academy trust, said: “We take all matters raised in the Ofsted report very seriously and fully acknowledge that expected standards in key areas were not met.
“It has been a difficult period for the school amplified by the pressures of the management of the pandemic, the impact of student and staff absence, and the readjustment to regular school life.
“As the report makes clear, an improvement plan to bring about positive change is already in place.
“This is a new direction for the school with an energised leadership team in place led by new principal. Lauren Phillips.
“We are confident that our robust improvement plan will ensure we reach the high standards that students, staff, parents and the LECA community can expect and be proud of.”