Thursday, 11 August 2022

School loses ‘good’ rating in new inspection

ICKNIELD Community College in Watlington “requires improvement” according to the education watchdog.

ICKNIELD Community College in Watlington “requires improvement” according to the education watchdog.

Ofsted inspectors who visited the Love Lane school earlier this month concluded that it had dropped a grade since their last visit two years ago and was no longer considered “good” overall.

They said achievement was too variable across subjects and not enough students made good progress, particularly in English.

The inspectors’ report states that all four areas covered — the achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management — required improvement, as did the school overall.

The rating means that Icknield is officially not a “good” school but it is “not inadequate”.

The inspectors suggested improvements including ensuring teachers match activities more closely to the abilities and needs of all students, providing more opportunities for students to work in groups or independently and providing written feedback which gives students clear guidance on what they need to do to improve.

The report praised headteacher Mat Hunter, who joined the school two years ago, and his senior leadership team, saying he had a “clear understanding of what needs to be done to improve the school” and he had “raised expectations and increased accountability”.

It also noted that students were “very positive” about the school and they were “well-cared for”.

Mr Hunter said staff expected to receive the poorer rating following changes to the Ofsted inspection framework.

Icknield is the second school in Oxfordshire to be inspected under the new criteria which came into force in September.

The first school, Wood Green School in Witney, was placed in special measures after previously being rated “outstanding”.

Mr Hunter said: “In the last two years there have been many positive changes which are yet to embed fully but this report is a platform which we can now work on.

“[Requires improvement] is the judgement that we thought we were going to get so in that respect we are pleased that our self-evaluation placed us at the same grade.”

Mr Hunter vowed to raise the school’s rating to “good” by its next inspection, which will take place within two years, and said the school’s top priority would be to improve its English results.

Fifty-five per cent of pupils achieved five passes at A* to C, including English and maths, in this year’s GCSE exams, which was a school record but 4.4 per cent lower than the UK average.

Mr Hunter said: “While our results overall have improved in every subject, English is holding us back.

“We have got everybody pulling together and we have the parents right behind us.”

In a letter to parents, chairman of governors Rob Cockrem said: “As a governing body, we are really pleased with the developmental work which has been taking place at the school over the past two years.

“The report recognises that improvements have been made since the last inspection and acknowledges that structures are now in place to make further progress.”

When he was appointed, Mr Hunter said he felt “very confident” that he could rise to the challenge. “One of the things that attracted me to the school is that is smaller with a family feel,” he said.

He had been senior vice-principal at Banbury School for 14 years and went on secondment to Wheatley Park School, near Oxford, to help bring it out of special measures.

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