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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Improvements at failing Carlisle secondary school

Government inspectors say improvements continue to be made to turn around the fortunes of a failing secondary school in Carlisle.

Des Bird photo
Des Bird

A check up on the Richard Rose Morton Academy has concluded with Ofsted inspectors stating it is making “reasonable progress” towards having special measures removed.

The Wigton Road school failed an inspection in November and was plunged into special measures. Ofsted visits failing schools every term to ensure the necessary improvements and rate of change are introduced.

Her Majesty’s Inspector Robert Pritchard, who visited the school with fellow inspectors Catherine Laing and Denis Oliver last month, has just published his latest findings.

He has praised school leaders for being ambitious yet realistic that “there is a long way to go”.

The school can now appoint newly qualified teachers, but only with prior permission from the lead inspector, who is monitoring its operations regularly.

In his findings, Mr Pritchard notes the school expects the proportion of pupils gaining five or more good GCSEs this summer, including English and maths, will rise.

Further improvements across a range of subjects is down to “better day-to-day teaching”, he added, some of which is said to be “very good teaching”.

Overall the quality of teaching is described as “variable” but measures put in place to help teachers improve are beginning to have an impact and staff must do more to share good practice, inspectors say.

Weak areas identified are where permanent teachers have not yet taken up their posts.

Both staff and pupils report that behaviour has “improved significantly” since November, with Mr Pritchard stating: “Students’ attitudes to learning have also improved and the academy is calm, with a purposeful atmosphere. Students are polite and respectful. Many of the students are keen to learn.”

The number of fixed-term exclusions is also significantly down and attendance is up.

Des Bird, headteacher of Richard Rose Morton Academy, said: “This report is another big step in the right direction for Morton which shows Ofsted’s confidence in the improvements we are making at the academy.

“It is encouraging that Ofsted have noted that students and parents understand and support the direction we are taking the school in. In particular, it is pleasing that the significant improvements in behaviour that have taken place during the year are apparent. This is already a very different school to how it was in the past.”

He added: “Ofsted agree with us that we are right to be focusing on securing permanent improvement. This takes time – and there is still a long way to go – but that is far better than putting in place quick fixes that don’t last.

“Everyone associated with Morton knows what we are setting out to achieve here and this report is further evidence that we are making good progress in doing so.”

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