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Carlisle's Richard Rose Central Academy school accused of letting down pupils

A student has accused the people in charge of a failing Carlisle academy of jeopardising pupils’ futures.

Richard Rose Central Academy aerial photo
Richard Rose Central Academy

The year 12 pupil at the Richard Rose Central Academy has lifted the lid on life inside the school, following the revelation on Saturday that it had been put back into special measures.

The news came little more than four years after Ofsted took the drastic action the first time.

In its latest report, inspectors said standards were too low, students’ achievement is inadequate and “too much teaching” required improvement or was weak.

Additionally, it blamed a minority of students’ poor behaviour for disrupting classes and diverting teachers’ attention away from those who do want to learn.

The sixth form student, who has asked not to be named for fear of risking his A Levels, said: “I believe the school is putting pupils’ future in danger and the pupils have been disadvantaged.

“I think some of my friends have had their futures put in jeopardy because of the school, and the school has let them down.

“I believe my year has been particularly disadvantaged – if we had been at a steady school, with good foundations, then my year would have received better GCSE results. This would obviously set us up for better things in life.”

The teenager praised previous headteacher Russ Wallace for the action he took after the academy was previously put in special measures, but said the problem was far deeper.

“In my opinion they brought the schools together way too quickly,” he said. “When the academy was first set up it was a complete disaster. I was only a lower year student in year 8 and in my opinion the students ran the school.

“The school was in a bad state at the start of special measures last time, and we should have never been taken out of special measures.”

The student also claimed the situation within the central academy was even worse than that portrayed by the Ofsted report.

He said: “When the school finds out it is getting an Ofsted inspection it totally changes – especially how the teachers present their lessons.

“If Ofsted turned up at school on Monday morning with no prior arrangement, they would find that the school is much worse than when they inspected in January – teachers actually have a lesson plan when Ofsted are in while when they are not they don’t.

“I don’t want to see other children end up in the same position we are in.”

Criticism has been levelled at those in charge of the school from all angles.

A former teacher labelled the academy “dire”.

“It’s terrible,” she said. “The problems are down to a lack of management. The senior managers are incapable.”

She said Brian Scowcroft, the businessman who sponsored the academy’s creation and the chairman of governors, in went into it “with the best intentions”.

“He relied on the people at the top of the school to do the job. He doesn’t want to be involved with a failing school.”

The woman added: “When it was St Aidan’s, there was a good range of abilities in the pupils. Now, any parent who thinks about their children’s future will take them out and put them in Trinity or William Howard. The intake has gone down in standards as well as numbers.

“Staff morale is so low. Anyone who can get out has gone. It’s the death knell for your career.”

Carlisle MP John Stevenson has now promised to meet with headteacher Jacky Kennedy as soon as possible.

“This is hugely disappointing given the amount of money and effort that has gone in to try to turn this school around,” he said.

“A full analysis has to be made as to where the school goes from here.”

Deborah Hamilton, branch secretary of Unison in Cumbria, said the situation highlighted the lack of thought when considering the future of academies. “They are outside of the family of schools, not accountable to the local community, allowed to set their own curriculum and terms and conditions for staff,” she said.

“This clearly shows the Government’s so-called remedy to fix failing schools by converting them to academy status does not work.”

The News & Star contacted Mike Gibbons, the former chief executive of the Richard Rose Federation, for his views on the latest Ofsted report.

Mr Gibbons, who is listed on the central academy website as a governor, said: “I’m not there anymore so it is nothing to do with me. I don’t think it’s fair for me to comment.”

Have your say

Why are people still choosing to send their children to the Richard Rose schools? Did you see the GCSE results for A*-C it was only 31% that's failing all these children. Trinity only got 35% but the little Catholic school, Newman got an amazing 63% with 90% of kids getting A*-C. That's so much over the national average. The council and news should be shouting their praise. Well done Newman, showing that Cumbrian schools can do it.

Posted by Emma on 18 September 2013 at 07:45

There seems to be a gross inaccuracy within these pages about the about the predeccessor school : ST AIDANS WAS NEVER IN SPECIAL MEASURES ,read its ofsted reports if they still exist, the publicity campaing for RRF hinted that the performance of both predecessor school was low - false - they never stated it directly because they couldnt prove it and would have faced dozens of Law suits, as for NCTC, the then Head Mark Yearsley had moved there form solway and brought the school out of special measures long before the merger.Pity he left , but Peter Noble had tied his hands!! preventing him exercising his expertise and good judgement. if your going to Comment GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT.

Posted by Montague West on 22 May 2013 at 17:44

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