SELSEY secondary school’s new headteacher has pledged changes for the better. The school has had three headteachers in the past year and poor Ofsted reports.
Ann-Marie Latham has just been made permanent, and this news came hot on the heels of an Ofsted monitoring report which saw improvements in the school.
Strating as an associate headteacher on September 30, Miss Latham said the Ofsted monitoring inspection, which took place just one week after her arrival, was a ‘pivotal time’ for The Academy, Selsey.
“It was a very good day,” she said. “They’re not going to come back next term they are going to come back next summer.
“If we continue to make a good progress we are getting ourselves ready for a full inspection. It is very positive news.”
This means the school will have a full Ofsted inspection, giving it the chance to shake off the ‘inadequate’ label.
“My plan really is to make sure that Selsey becomes a high performing school,” said Miss Latham.
She also wants to rid the school of any bad reputation it may hold, but she said this ‘is something that takes time’.
No stranger to improving schools, Miss Latham said: “I have worked in schools that have required improvement, bringing them up to a high place.”
Miss Latham was most recently an acting headteacher at a school in Cambridgeshire, but has also worked as an advisor on education in local authorities, and working in higher education training teachers.
Part of her plans for the school is to make sure students understand why they are learning, and can demonstrate what they have learnt.
“We are working hard to try and encourage as much active learning as we can,” she said.
“We’re making sure students engage with the learning process, with all sorts of different activities, role plays, discussions, all sorts of things. The aim is to get children as active as possible in their learning so they all really understand the process.
“It is about driving consistently across the academy making sure that everybody has the same vision that I have, sharing that with the staff and the students, so everybody knows what we are actually working towards.
“I think that is absolutely key.”
Community also plays a role in Miss Latham’s vision for the school.
For example, students recently held a Christmas fair for the community, baking cakes, making decorations, and inviting residents of Selsey along. They also raised £244 for charity.
“The opportunity for children to work outside of the normal curriculum that we teach is useful in developing their wider learning.
“I am keen to get the community in as much as possible. I just think it’s useful for the students to do different activities with the community and for the community to see what we are doing. I would like them to be able to come in and see what the students can do. The students are very good, they are very pleasant here, they are hard working.”
She said students and staff had been very welcoming, and explained what drew her to the school.
“I spent some time in the school and went and had a look around Selsey. I came to see if I could make a difference.
“I walked around all the classrooms, and the dining hall at break time. The place was very calm, very pleasant. I talked to quite a few children. They were delightful.
“I got a sense that it was a place where I felt comfortable. I think it is a very positive place.”
THE monitoring inspector was impressed that students were ‘beginning to develop a greater understanding of the world beyond their local area’ –something Miss Latham wants to do.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure the youngsters here are very well prepared to leave the academy and to leave Selsey.
“It is not like we’re at the end of the world and the students need to know they have the skills and they are ready to made that journey up that road to access the colleges and higher education.”
The students have been making trips to Chichester University, and even Cambridge, to give them a taster of what could be an option in the future.
But it’s not just about academic students.
“All children should be able to get the best results they can possibly get. Some children are at a high level with academic subjects and some will do better at vocational subjects.
“It’s about accommodating all children in achieving their potential. I believe every child has the opportunity to do well in something, and we need to open the door to allow them to find out what they want to do. It is about finding the best place for the children to go to get their higher education.”
Miss Latham has also been bringing in professions from different careers to talk about what they do to the students, including two Observer reporters.
“It is important children here have that experience,” she said.
The Ofsted monitoring inspector noted students were beginning to ‘widen their horizons and aspirations’.
WHEN a school is classed as having ‘serious weaknesses’ there are several monitoring inspections to check the school’s progress before the next big inspection.
An Ofsted inspector visited the school on November 7, and said: “The academy is making reasonable progress towards the removal of the serious weakness designation.
“The new headteacher has quickly and accurately ascertained the strengths and weakness of the academy and is strongly focused on improving the quality of teaching.”
The report noted a nine per cent rise for students achieving A* to C grades inclusive of English and maths.
“As a result of the emphasis which has been placed upon the planning of lessons, the quality of teaching has improved overall,” said inspector Marcia Headon.
“The success of the school in improving its GCSE results has encouraged students to believe that they can succeed and to develop a greater sense of pride in their school and in themselves.”