Ofsted praises resilience of academy team after fire

The fire at The Academy, Selsey. Picture by Eddie Mitchell
The fire at The Academy, Selsey. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

Ofsted has praised the “admirable resilience” of staff at The Academy, Selsey, in its first inspection since the school was devastated by fire.

The academy went up in flames on August 21 and students have been taught in temporary buildings since then.

Tom Garfield, head of The Academy, Selsey

Tom Garfield, head of The Academy, Selsey

Despite this, headteacher Tom Garfield and his team saw their school put through a two-day inspection in January. The findings of lead inspector Gary Holden were published on February 3.

In his report, Mr Holden said: “Leaders have risen magnificently to the many challenges caused by the fire which destroyed large parts of the school in August 2016.

“As a result of their decisive and timely actions, the school functions as a calm, cohesive and orderly community in temporary accommodation.”

His views were reflected by parents. One told him: “The way that the staff and management have reacted to the devastating fire during the summer has been incredible.”

The announcement that Ofsted would be carrying out an inspection so soon after the fire was greeted with anger by parents, who took to social media protesting the decision. But Mr Garfield said: “We understand that Ofsted have a duty to inspect schools regardless of their circumstances and we respect the need to assess the quality of education being delivered to students across the system.”

Mr Garfield took over as headteacher in January 2016, and Mr Holden recognised the work put in place since then to improve the quality of teaching and raise the aspirations of staff and pupils. With work still to be done, the inspector rated the academy ‘requires improvement’ and included in his report a list of areas which needed attention.

Progress made by students in maths and science were seen to be below average, particularly among boys and disadvantaged pupils, while the quality of teaching was described as “variable”.

One area which came in for praise was the behaviour of the students. Following the last inspection, in 2014, it had been highlighted for improvement – and staff and children rose to the challenge.

Mr Holden described behaviour as “a strength” of the school and said: “Around the school, between lessons, at break and at lunchtime, pupils conduct themselves well. Pupils say that bullying is infrequent and that when it does occur, teachers deal with it promptly and well.

“There are no areas in the school in which pupils report they feel unsafe.”

Mr Garfield said: “I am very pleased that the inspectors recognised the improvements made since the last inspection, especially with regard to leadership and management and the behaviour of pupils. As with all inspection reports there are areas for development and we will continue to work tirelessly to move the school forward in these areas.”

He said The Academy’s school improvement plan had been revised to encompass all Mr Holden’s instructions and added: “I am very confident that our rating will rise in the next inspection.

“There has been significant progress since the previous inspection and we continue to make progress at this rate.”

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