I’ve been prompted to look a bit further at the Alec Reed Academy (see previous post). Its achievements are really quite modest. It last had a full OFSTED inspection in January 2010 when it was judged ‘Good’. As we know, schools that are currently labelled such can expect not to be reinspected for five years so the management will have their eyes fixed on early 2015 (two lots of exam results away). A Geography subject inspection barely a year ago gained only a ‘Satisfactory’ which, as we all now know, means ‘Requiring improvement’ (check your DfE issue dictionary).
For those of you who don’t know, you can get some interesting data about any school by visiting ‘OFSTED dashboard’ (just google it and type in the school name or postcode). This gives you exam outcomes and attendance compared to similar schools and the national picture. As such it is a highly simplified version of the data available to OFSTED inspectors. It enables you to play at being an OFSTED inspector yourself: in the case of Alec Reed I would be worried about the Key Stage 2 SAT results which are below similar schools and national norms — reading is particularly poor. Given that Key Stage 1 results are above national averages, I would be looking for either those results having been inflated or some poor teaching during the later primary phase.
As for Key Stage 4, achievement in English and Maths is pretty poor and ought to earn a Grade 3 in any upcoming inspection. So, are the SLT panicking about this and putting undue pressure on staff to bring about some swift improvements? Remember they’ve got two exam results ’rounds’ to go but if, for example, this summer’s results were particularly bad that could trigger an earlier inspection. If they do feel like that it would be understandable and they may well be under the mistaken apprehension that bullying people gets better work from them. Such a situation could arise in any school BUT in an academy, as I pointed out in the last post, there is no one outside management to whom staff can appeal — not chair of governors, teacher or parent governors, not the Local Authority. In those circumstances — as in the case of Alec Reed — the teachers’ unions are vital.