Failing school in special measures

Highfield Primary School on Wright Street
Highfield Primary School on Wright Street
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A Chorley primary has been placed into special measures after a damning report found it was not making enough progress in lessons.

Staff and governors in Highfield Primary School, in Wright Street, have reacted in shock at the findings, which also raised concerns about the standard of some of the teaching and the poor attendance record.

The decision to take the school into special measures comes out of a visit by inspectors in November, in which 14 lessons and 11 teachers were observed.

The Ofsted report judged the school to be ‘inadequate’ in many areas.

It said: “Although the school’s leaders and governing body are committed to raising attainment, a lack of clear actions and instability in leadership have restricted the school’s progress.

“As a result, weaknesses in teaching, low attendance and inadequate achievement have not been tackled quickly enough.

“Previous underachievement has not been acted upon robustly and there has too little improvement since the previous inspection.

“School leaders are having too little effect on the quality if teaching and outcomes for pupils.

“The governing body is not sufficiently challenging to ensure the school improves.

“Consequently, the school does not have the capacity to sustain improvement.”

The previous inspection – less than three years ago – rated the school as ‘good and improving’.

But despite putting the school into special measures, the latest report shows that 99 per cent of parents surveyed felt that teaching at the school was good, and 95 per cent were happy with their child’s experience at Highfield Primary.

Headteacher Sue Cornall said: “The interests of the children come first and we are determined to move forward on this. We will build on the strengths noted in the report and already have a robust action plan in place, supported by senior advisors from the county council.

“One part of this plan is the appointment of Andy Purcell, the head of St George’s CE Primary, as chair of our governing body. He brings a wealth of experience having spent all of his career in education.

“This is a busy, happy school where children thrive and feel safe. Our parents know that and they have confidence in us.

“I have no doubt that everyone at the school and our advisers from the county council will be able to work effectively with our governing body to address the issues raised in the Ofsted report.”

County Councillor Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, said: “Of course a school going into special measures is disappointing, but we have a very strong track record in helping schools turn themselves around and I am sure that Highfield will be no exception.

“Our advisers and consultants have already been providing help to Highfield Primary and will continue to do so.

Special measures is a used to describe schools deemed to be failing and could include a lack of leadership.

A school subject to special measures will have regular short-notice Ofsted inspections to monitor its improvement.

If poor performance continues the school may be closed but this is an extreme measure.