A Worthing school which did not receive a full inspection from Ofsted for 12 years saw its overall rating drop from ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement’.
The case of Heene CE Primary School, in Norfolk Street, was mentioned at a West Sussex County Council meeting last week, during a discussion about school performance figures and inspections.
Mark Jenner, head of school effectiveness, told the meeting that Ofsted recently started ‘playing catch-up’ with schools it had not visited for a while.
Instead of seeing one or two of its schools inspected each week, the county saw as many as six schools being visited as Ofsted ‘caught up with the backlog’.
In its new School Effectiveness Strategy, the council set itself the target of reaching the top 25 per cent of local authorities for education by 2022.
The meeting was told that, to achieve this, 92 per cent of the county’s children needed to be attending ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools.
This last half-term, all the schools that were inspected either stayed the same or improved, with four progressing from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’.
While acknowledging this progress, Mr Jenner said there was still ‘quite a distance to go’, with some 6,500 children still attending schools needing improvement.
One of those schools was Heene School, which has seen numerous changes since its last full inspection in November 2006.
In a letter to parents, thanking them for their support after the latest inspection, headteacher Jo MacGovern pointed out that the inspection framework had changed four times in those 12 years, with ‘much higher expectations for every category of the inspection’.
As well as Ofsted’s changes, there were changes at the school itself, which expanded from a first school to an all-through primary.
A team of inspectors reported that Mrs MacGovern led the school with ‘passion and determination’, adding that the children behaved well and had ‘positive attitudes to learning’.
However, the quality of teaching was described as ‘too variable’, with not enough children making good progress in writing and maths.
Mrs MacGovern told parents: “Obviously we are disappointed with this judgement and will be working together as a school community along with the local authority and the diocese to move out of this category by the time of the next inspection.”