Hyde school deemed ‘inadequate’ by inspectors

A HYDE school for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has been deemed to be inadequate and placed in special measures.

Thomas Ashton, on Bennett Street in Flowery Field, has dropped from good to the lowest grade possible following an inspection on November 8 and 9.

And inspectors found many faults, including pupils not receiving a ‘meaningful and appropriate education.’

Behaviour management, including aggression, was also cited and its governors – who will be replaced in short order – heavily criticised.

Lead inspector Stuart Perkins was also in no doubt about what needs to happen, which means the facility will link up with an academy trust.

The Ofsted report states: “His Majesty’s Chief Inspector is of the opinion that this school requires special measures because it is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school.

“Pupils do not receive a meaningful and appropriate education that meets their special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

“Pupils do not learn what they should in many subjects. As a result, they are ill equipped for the next stage in their education.

“Behaviour is not managed well. This means that pupils frequently hear swear words or derogatory language.

Thomas Ashton School. Image by GGC Media

“A significant minority display aggression at times towards others. The school does not support pupils well enough to develop respectful relationships with their peers and adults.

“Leadership capacity at all levels is weak. The school, including governors, has not been able to stem the decline in pupils’ education since the previous inspection.

“Governors do not have the necessary skills or knowledge that they need in order to hold the school to account for pupils’ performance.

“Members of the governing body too readily accept the information that they receive. There are no systems to check on its validity.

“A lack of leadership capacity at all levels means that the school is not able to bring about the required improvement without considerable support from external partners.”

Not checking things and a lack of thought are themes throughout the critical report, with five to 14-year-old pupils’ learning part of it.

It adds: “Pupils, all of whom have SEND, experience a poor quality of education.

“This is because the curriculum has not been shaped well enough to take account of their needs.

“The school has not given enough thought to how subjects come together to form a coherent, well-ordered curriculum.

“The knowledge that pupils should learn and the order in which this should be taught have not been identified.

“Teachers work in isolation from each other when deciding what pupils should learn. In addition, teachers have not received the support that they need to enhance their own subject knowledge.

“As a result, pupils often experience a jumbled series of lessons across many subjects.

“Pupils’ learning is not checked well enough to identify whether they have understood what has been taught.

“Teachers do not spot where knowledge is insecure, nor are they alert to misconceptions. As a result, their understanding of many concepts is fragile.

“Pupils do not gain a secure foundation on which to build. They are not well equipped for later learning.

“The school has not prioritised reading enough. The school environment does not help to foster a love of reading. Some pupils display negative attitudes towards books. Many choose to opt out of reading activities.

“Pupils do not receive a suitable phonics programme that helps them to become fluent, confident readers. Staff do not have the necessary knowledge to teach phonics effectively. As a result, pupils struggle to read.”

Inspectors questioned whether some of Thomas Ashton’s pupils misbehave to get out of learning. Attendance rates were also highlighted.

The report points out, starkly: “Many staff do not have the knowledge or expertise that they need to challenge poor behaviour effectively.

“Over time, some pupils have recognised that they can avoid learning by not behaving well. A significant majority of pupils are completely reliant on adults to manage their behaviour because they have not developed strategies to support them to manage their own emotions.

“At times, this leads to considerable disruption because some pupils display behaviours that interrupt their own learning and that of others.

“Pupils’ absence rates, including for persistent absence, are high. The school has only just raised the importance of attendance with parents and carers and staff. Historically, the school has not paid enough attention to the reasons behind pupils’ absence.

“This has hampered the school from shaping its actions to tackle the underlying causes of non-attendance.

“A considerable number of pupils are absent from school. This compounds pupils’ weak achievement further.

“The school should find out the reasons why different groups of pupils choose not to come to school.

“It should then take suitable action to overcome the barriers to regular attendance so that absence levels decrease swiftly.”

Despite its verdict, Thomas Ashton School was keen to push its positive aspects – but admitted things will change, quickly.

A spokesman said: “Following an inspection, Ofsted found that our pupils feel safe in school and enjoy coming to school, with safeguarding judged to be effective.

“However, the school has received an overall rating of ‘Inadequate’ and has been placed in special measures.

“We understand that this will be of concern to parents and the school community and steps were immediately put in place, with the support of the local authority, including additional leadership support and the appointment of a new governing body.

“We are also working with the New Bridge Academy Trust, a very successful multi-academy trust that has been supporting the school to improve for some months already.

“A post-inspection action plan will be available to view on our school website in the New Year.

“The overall judgement means that the Secretary of State for Education must make an academy order and that Thomas Ashton will become a sponsored academy.

“We will be working with Tameside Council and the Department for Education closely on this process as we together strive to provide the best education for pupils.

“Meeting our students’ complex needs and supporting them to build positive relationships, confidence and independence to achieve their aspirations is at the heart of all that we do.

“We will keep parents informed of our progress and have reassured them that we are working extremely hard towards swift improvement of the school’s overall performance.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *