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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Barrow school in special measures ‘making reasonable progress’

OFSTED says Furness Academy is “making reasonable progress” towards the removal of special measures.

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improvement Furness Academy, led by interim headteacher Des Hirlihey, inset, was found to be “making reasonable progress” HARRY ATKINSON REF: 50052737B001

Inspectors judged the Barrow secondary as inadequate and needing special measures in May. A second monitoring visit this month found the sponsors’ statement to now be fit for purpose.

Former principal, Douglas Blackledge, resigned this month, and since September a number of teaching staff have resigned and been replaced. Two progress leaders have been appointed for the key stages.

Head of English, Julia Ingham, is a new assistant principal. The academy says she will strengthen the quality of the senior leadership team.

Key Stage Three students are making better progress, but Ofsted said at Key Stage Four “there remains a wide gulf between the targets for achievement and students’ current progress,” particularly in maths, for students with disabilities, special educational needs and supported by pupil premium, because “too much teaching still requires improvement or is inadequate.” The report says “a wealth of interventions are under way”.

Around 40 students are educated off-site, achievement is tracked, but Ofsted said a number regularly fail to attend and make no progress.

Quality of teaching “varies from outstanding to inadequate” and a significant number of staff have support plans to help them improve. Ofsted saw examples of good practice where underperformance was identified. Around half the teaching seen was good, with two outstanding examples in maths and drama.

Fixed-term and internal exclusion referrals have reduced. Ofsted said many students “behave very well” in lessons and around school. They are “polite, well-mannered and eager to learn”, and “rightly proud of their new school surroundings”. But “there remains a core of students who do not always succeed in lessons and are taken out. Many of these students have specific learning needs that are not met,” the report says.

The senior team works more cohesively, but responsibilities are being reviewed, inspectors found. Production and analysis of data continues to be “a key strength of the school”, with leaders working “diligently to ensure that data are accurate.”

Inspectors said the academy must urgently review child protection, attendance, accidents, anti-bullying and behaviour policies to reflect good safeguarding practice, and rigorously monitor off-site provision and safeguarding.

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