School is ‘improving rapidly’

Orchard Head J&I School has come out of special measures.
Orchard Head J&I School has come out of special measures.

A PONTEFRACT school is well on the road to recovery little more than a year after a damning inspectors’ report.

Orchard Head J&I School was placed into special measures in November 2010 after Ofsted found it provided inadequate teaching for many of its pupils, suffered high staff turnover and had insufficient plans in place to improve its performance.

Now the Orchard Head Lane school has been taken out of special measures following an unannounced inspection last month. It is also set to regain its own board of governors from September, after Wakefield Council replaced its previous managers with an Interim Executive Board (IEB) in response to the critical report.

IEB chairman Pam Reynolds said: “We are very proud of the progress and success of the school. Staff, pupils and my colleagues on the IEB have worked very hard to achieve this ahead of schedule.

“I am particularly grateful for the support of the parents, who have been alongside us all the way.”

An Ofsted team visited the school on two days last month – part of a programme of inspections each term since it was put into special measures – and issued its latest report last week.

The report said: “In the time since the school was placed in special measures it has improved significantly and is now satisfactory.

“Since the last inspection the early years foundation stage has built on its previous strengths and is now outstanding because children are given the very best start possible to their life in school.”

It added: “Previous underachievement in key stage one and key stage two has been tackled successfully and gaps in pupils’ achievement, caused by weak teaching in the past, are closing rapidly.”

Ofsted also found that: “Leaders and managers now evaluate accurately the school’s strengths and areas for development so that it is improving rapidly.”

The report said consistency of teaching needed to improve before the school could be rated ‘good’ and that there still needed to be improvements in responsibility and behaviour, especially among boys.

To ensure continuing improvements, Ofsted has set the school a series of targets to be achieved by the end of 2012.

These include continuing to raise attainment at key stage two, using pupil assessment more effectively so children work according to their abilities, giving pupils more opportunities to work independently and making parents and carers more aware of how children’s work might improve.

Inspectors also want to see the remaining behavioural problems resolved by September this year.