Ashington High School deemed inadequate just days after Haydon Bridge received its own damning report
Ashington High School
Another Northumberland high school has been placed in special measures by Ofsted, prompting fears of a crisis in North East education.
Following an inspection in January, Ashington High School has been deemed inadequate overall, having fallen from a rating of ‘good’ in 2012.
The news comes 10 days after Haydon Bridge High School received its own damning report, and nine months before Ashington High is due to become a secondary school with the opening of new multi-million pound facilities.
Ashington principal Rob Kitching and colleagues are now drawing up an action plan to show inspectors how they will tackle key areas, and the school will be subject to regular visits in the coming months to check progress. If none is made, school leadership will be changed and the school could ultimately close.
A school spokesman said: “Ashington High School has received a disappointing report from the latest Ofsted inspection.
“We can confirm the school has been placed under special measures. Parents have been notified and we will discuss the report and our action plan with them in full after it has been published by Ofsted.
“We have fallen some way short of our own expectations and those of parents. Lessons must and will be learnt. We will shortly be sending a formal response to Ofsted’s chief inspector of schools and to the secretary of state for education. Our response will accept the overall findings of the report and it will contain an outline action plan for improvement.”
The statement added: “Our school is built on strong foundations and these will enable us to begin making the required improvements immediately. For example, since our last Ofsted inspection we have seen GCSE results improve across 16 subjects. While the report is very disappointing overall, inspectors did acknowledge we have procedures and systems in place that are good.
“The work to improve begins immediately and in the short-term our objective is to lift ourselves out of special measures at the first available opportunity while longer-term, we remain absolutely committed to turning Ashington High into an outstanding school in which to teach and learn.”
Ashington High School opened in 1960 as Ashington Grammar School, and became a comprehensive in the mid-70s before becoming today’s high school for pupils aged 13 to 18.
It was designated a specialist Sports College in 2001, a High Performing Specialist School in 2006 and a Foundation School and member of the Ashington Learning Partnership in 2007.
The school, currently attended by 1,000 students, is due to expand into a secondary school for 11 to 18-year-olds by November as the county moves toward a two-tier education system.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery told us he was extremely disappointed at the news and has requested a meeting with Ofsted’s regional director.
He said: “Right from the age of two, when they enter the education system, our children need and deserve the very best teaching. It would be all too easy to take a knee-jerk reaction and criticise the schools but at this point that is not the answer.
“We need to work together to learn lessons from these Ofsted inspections and ensure that things are put right without delay.
“Sadly, there seems to be a disproportionate number of schools being criticised in Ofsted reports in the North East of England, and we need to know why that is. If it is because of a lack of investment from Government then we need to vigorously challenge the Secretary of State for Education over this.”
He added: “Education is right up there among the highest priorities for our young people and I will be doing all I can to ensure that work begins immediately to sort this situation out.
“It is absolutely vital that pupils in Wansbeck get the same opportunities for a good education as those throughout the rest of the country and that our schools are in a position to provide this.” Dave Thompson/PA Wire
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Ofsted confirmed an inspection took place at Ashington High School Sports College in January, but like Northumberland County Council declined to comment further until the formal inspection report was published in full.
The 560-pupil Haydon Bridge High School was visited by inspectors in December and was found to be inadequate in leadership and management, behaviour and safety of pupils, quality of teaching, and achievement of pupils.
School bosses have since vowed to work to secure improvement, while Northumberland County Council said the report was “not surprising given the weaknesses identified in governance and the decline in achievement” since the last inspection in 2010.
A meeting was held at the school for parents and carers after the announcement, and another is planned for parents and stakeholders on February 24.
It was better news for Whytrig Middle School this week after it received a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted following its latest inspection.
The Seaton Delaval school received the rating across all four areas - leadership and management, behaviour and safety of pupils, quality of teaching, and achievement of pupils.
Inspectors noted a significant improvement, following a ‘requires improvement’ conclusion from a 2013 visit.
In the last two years, Whytrig has seen changes in leadership and management, and relocation to the sit alongside Astley Community High School in Elsdon Avenue.
The Ofsted report stated: “Good teaching ensures pupils from all backgrounds, including the disadvantaged and those with special educational needs, achieve well.
“Pupils enjoy their lessons and respond very positively to teachers’ clear expectations by working hard and behaving well, both in lessons and at social times. They are considerate, polite and respectful.”
John Barnes, executive headteacher at Whytrig Middle School and Astley Community High School, said: “Being rated ‘good’ by Ofsted is fantastic news. It highlights the hard work and dedication of the staff, pupils, parents and governors.
“Our aim now is to continue this hard work and ensure that Whytrig Middle is the first choice for parents in the area.”