EDUCATION bosses are trying to sack a school’s governing body after it was put in special measures.
Oxfordshire County Council is in urgent talks over the future of Bicester Community College (BCC) after a damning Ofsted report. The school was found to be inadequate at all levels.
Pupil achievement, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management were deemed level four on the scale of one to four, with four the worst.
The council is now in urgent talks with the Department for Education over proposals to create a federation between the college and nearby Cooper School, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted in June 2011.
The move would see one executive head in overall control of both, but each school would have its own headteacher. Officials say the advantage is schools would share expertise and teachers could work across all schools. The council has applied to the Education Secretary to remove BCC’s 18-strong governing body and replace it with an interim executive board (IEB).
The council’s cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley said the education of children at the school was “paramount”.
She said: “The county council is deeply disappointed in the poor performance and leadership of the school. It is clear that urgent and robust action needs to be taken to secure improvements.”
It has also emerged the council issued a formal Performance Standards and Safety Warning Notice last October after it identified the same areas of concern highlighted by Ofsted. Such notices are issued where there is evidence to justify both the local authority’s concerns and the school’s reluctance or inability to address those concerns within a reasonable time frame.
Bicester’s four county councillors Charles Shouler, Norman Bolster, Lawrie Stratford and Michael Waine – who quit as a BCC governor last September – said they “fully supported” the federation proposal.
Mr Shouler said the Ofsted report was the worst he had ever seen. He said: “The majority of kids at that school are not getting a proper education and what we are proposing is the school federate with another successful secondary school.
“Obviously the school is not happy, but our view is they are in complete denial.” He said the alternative was the school becoming an academy, which councillors did not support because it would take about a year to make the change.
Cllr Waine, a former headteacher, said there had been concern that standards needed to be raised at the college for a “long period”, but the Ofsted report created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the school.
Principal Jason Clarke pledged to “secure the best for students”.
In a statement, he said: “I am aware of, and fully understand, the concerns expressed by parents and the wider community regarding the contents of the report and remain fully committed to securing the best for our students.
“The local authority’s application for an IEB is a matter for the Secretary of State to decide and, regardless of the outcome, the college requires strong, determined leadership at this point to build on the foundations laid during the last two years.”
Inspectors raised the following concerns:
- Low attendance
- Parents and carers’ concerns not addressed
- Managers and governors not acting quickly enough to improve teaching and achievement since the last inspection
- Teaching not good enough and “too often” students were not given clear advice how to improve their work
- GCSE results declining l Sixth form achievement fallen
Students not making enough progress, including maths and English
- Governors criticised for failing to challenge the school’s leaders about pupils’ achievement or teaching quality.
The report said the school’s strengths included pupils being polite and welcoming to visitors, behaviour was generally sensible and students felt safe.
It also said school leaders were “beginning to take decisive steps forward”. The college will now be subject to regular monitoring by Ofsted. Dozens of parents raised a string of concerns on the Oxford Mail website after the Ofsted report.
More than 100 comments included concerns about poor teaching, poor leadership, bullying and petty rules.
We asked for an interview and put forward questions to Mr Clarke, but instead he issued a statement from the school.
He said it would be “focused” in the coming months to improve the provision for students.
He was “disappointed” by Ofsted’s inadequate grade for behaviour, which he says did not reflect the school or students.
He said: “We are very disappointed by the outcome of the inspection and the impact it may have on hard work undertaken since the last inspection two years ago. The report acknowledges the recent positive impact of many initiatives currently in place and under way. My greatest disappointment is the grade for behaviour, which does not truly reflect the positive attitude and pride the vast majority of our students have for their school.”