Ofsted slams Trust again over Houghton Regis Academy failings

Trust 'strongly disagree' with findings which reveal pupils fear they are not being prepared for GCSE studies

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:44 pm

A Houghton Regis school has been told it should not take on any newly qualified teachers after receiving its FOURTH monitoring report in less than two years from Ofsted.

Houghton Regis Academy was put into special measures following an inspection by the education watchdog in January 2019.

A monitoring report in January 2020 found that leaders and managers are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures. The trust’s statement of action was declared not fit for purpose and the school’s action plan was also considered not fit for purpose.

Houghton Regis Academy has been criticised by Ofsted again

Two reports were carried out remotely during lockdowns but a further in-person visit in June 2021, the findings of which have just published, found little had changed.

Ofsted inspect Al Mistrano said: "Since the previous section 5 inspection in January 2019, the trust has not made the necessary improvements to the school. Their low expectations of what the school can achieve is a significant barrier to the school’s improvement and pupils’ future success.

"The quality of education remains poor and does not enable pupils to learn what they should to make successful next steps in their education. Leaders have not designed the curriculum well enough so that pupils learn more and can remember what they have already been taught.

"The curriculum does not provide pupils with the basic skills, knowledge and understanding that pupils need in order to read well and become fluent readers. While pupils now have access to better quality texts, pupils lack some basic knowledge. These gaps in their learning hinder their ability to achieve well in English. Pupils told us that they worry that they are not prepared for GCSE studies."

He said there was poor provision for pupils with special educational needs,

He added: "Leaders told us that, as the number of pupils continues to reduce, staff are more likely to be teaching subjects for which they are not specialists. The Trust has not provided effective training for staff to understand and teach unfamiliar curriculum areas. Staff have reported on the staff questionnaire that the school does not use professional development well to support teachers’ improvement. Staff also reported that leaders do not manage workload well.

"Trust leaders and members of the trust board have an inaccurate view of the strengths and weaknesses of the school. Reports to the board of trustees have not provided the information that board members need to understand the quality of the school’s provision. Trustees have not held trust leaders to account for the unacceptably low standards at the school".

The school currently takes only 11-15 year age range and has 111 pupils.

The school joined Greenwood Academies Trust in 2012 but in 2020 the Trust announced it would be closing the school.

At the time a Trust spokesman said: "Unfortunately, the academy is currently undersubscribed due to a proposed housing development not being built and this has led to low pupil numbers and an inability to recruit sufficient high-quality, subject-specific staff.

"After long and careful consideration, we believe that closure is now the only option.

"A clear closure process has been developed and the academy will ensure all pupils are properly supported and have access to a good education throughout the closure transition period."

Responding to the latest report, a spokesperson for the Trust, said: “Providing a high quality education is of the utmost importance to us, and we remain committed to ensuring pupils have access to the best possible education during the Academy’s final year of operation. Ahead of the Academy’s planned closure in July 2022, we will continue to work closely with the Academy and the Department for Education, which has recognised and supported our commitment to our pupils throughout this time.

“We are very disappointed and strongly disagree with this report, particularly since the two most recently published reports from Ofsted were more positive about provision at the Academy as they had taken into full account the unique circumstance within which the Academy is operating. As such, we had requested that Ofsted take appropriate steps to validate the evidence used to make the judgements in this report and take the full situation into consideration, which has not been done. However, we will continue to uphold high expectations and work closely with pupils, parents, staff and the local community to ensure pupils are properly supported and any disruption minimised as outlined in the Academy’s transition plan.”

A new secondary school, which will offer places for 900 pupils as well as a 220-pupil sixth form, is expected to open in Houghton Regis in September 2022.