Ofsted praises Abbeyfield School bosses
School inspectors have praised Abbeyfield School in Chippenham, which has overcome the recent turbulence in leadership and staffing that resulted in the departure of previous head teacher James Fox.
Following an inspection on September 27 and 28, the Ofsted team have rated the 834-pupil secondary school as good, which is an increase on its rating of satisfactory three years ago.
The inspectors note in their report that there has been “considerable turbulence in school leadership and staffing over the last year”.
Mr Fox was suspended in January and left by mutual consent in August.
In addition, as a result of falling numbers of pupils and a budget deficit, ten teachers and five support staff were made redundant at the end of the last academic year.
David Nicholson, who became headteacher after six years as deputy at Abbeyfield, is praised by Ofsted.
The report says: “The head teacher has skilfully kept the school on track to make significant improvements to the quality of teaching, learning and ethos, despite the turmoil in leadership and staffing during the last nine months.
“He has commanded much loyalty from his teaching staff, many of whom have stepped up to take on significant leadership roles.”
The Ofsted report says attainment has risen since the last inspection with the proportion of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs, including English and maths, now above average.
Higher and middle attaining students make particularly good progress, and achievement in maths is outstanding, the report says. It also said teaching, behaviour and safety are good and pupils are “exceptionally polite and welcoming to visitors.”
To improve further, the inspectors say sixth form students should be guided more appropriately onto courses that suit their capabilities, aspirations and interests.
The positive Ofsted report follows considerable success in the GCSE results over the past two years at Abbeyfield.
This year it was ranked fourth out of 26 comprehensive schools in the county for its GCSE results and first for results in maths.
Mr Nicholson said: “I am delighted the inspectors recognised the tremendous hard work from students and staff and the accelerated progress made by all.
“I am particularly pleased they appreciated the school is a well-ordered, purposeful and safe community where students feel valued as individuals and challenged to achieve the best they can.
“It is a privilege and a pleasure to be head teacher and I am confident the school is now in a position to realistically achieve an ‘outstanding’ rating at the next inspection.”
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