School pleased by good report
COMMONWEAL School is encouraged by an improved Ofsted report despite the changing inspection criteria which has moved it from outstanding to good.
The performing arts college converted to an academy in 2011, and headteacher Keith Defter said a poor set of GCSE results in 2013 were bound to affect the visit from the inspectors.
“Most people look at the report and say it is actually a better report than in 2011,” he said. “The goalposts have been changed massively in terms of the rigour of the inspections.
“This highlights the positive aspects, including leadership and management, which are very strong here at all levels. “Our use of data has improved massively, as well as the general progress of students.”
After problems with marking of GCSE English results in 2013, the majority of students re-sat the examin November, which brought results back up.
“When Ofsted arrived we were being judged as a new school because we converted in 2011, on top of the fact we had a dip in English results last year because of a change in the way they are graded,” he said.
“If you look at the detail of the report we are very pleased, but we are not satisfied with being good. We think we can do even better. All it takes is little tweaks and refinements of practice.
“None of the report has come as a surprise. We have been working on the aspects they have identified for improvement.”
Keith said he is determined to bring the school back up to outstanding in the next inspection, which will come after it opens its doors to the new 300-student sixth form in September.
“The biggest issue we have is the framework seems to change every three months or so,” he said. “It is a relentless shifting of the criteria. We aspire to be outstanding next time. “We pride ourselves on doing what is best for our students, and we put the interests of our students above the interests of the league tables.
“The inspectors were particularly pleased with the predictive data for next year, where we expect to have our best ever set of exam results.”
Inspectors said in their report: “The progress of students who left Year 11 in 2013 was not consistently strong for all subjects. “The reasons for this dip have been identified and quickly addressed so that attainment and progress have improved sharply.
“The school ensures that the highest attaining students achieve their potential in English and mathematics.
“Students in the special needs unit make good and often outstanding progress because teachers have a very good understanding of individual needs.
“Teachers usually get the best out of their students, giving them a good variety of tasks that stretch and challenge them and capture their interests.
“The quality of teaching is rigorously monitored. Teachers are held to account for the progress made by students, and salary increases are only awarded if targets are met. The quality of teaching has strongly improved across the school.“
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