School making progress but still work to be done

Helen Morgan, head teacher at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School
Helen Morgan, head teacher at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School

Ofsted inspectors have said a high school is making progress but not enough to be taken out of special measures.

Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School (HLHS) was placed into special measures last year. It is now working with the Abbey Multi Academy Trust, although the sponsorship is not due to be finalised until next month.

In its latest monitoring inspection from HMI (Her Majesty’s Inspectors), the report said gaps between the achievement of disadvantaged students and those who are not narrowed in both English and mathematics, but the gaps are still far too wide.

In the sixth form achievement improved slightly in 2014. However, achievement is far too variable and too many students continue to under perform both at GCSE and at A-level.

Inspector Michael Maddison said: The most recent assessment of students’ performance suggests that more students are on track to meet their targets this summer in Year 11 and in the sixth form. This is because senior leaders have made some progress in raising achievement.

“The approach to setting students’ targets and the systems for tracking and monitoring students’ performance has been overhauled. Action to improve the quality of teaching is starting to have a positive impact on achievement.”

On the subject of teaching, the report said: “The quality of teaching is improving. Students told inspectors that they are enjoying their learning more and feel that they are doing better because teaching is getting better. However, the challenge for higher attaining students was variable.”

The leadership and management of the school was also praised, saying senior leaders and governors are determined to bring about improvements in students’ achievement and recognised “that there is much to do and judge that the academy is still inadequate in all aspects of the inspection evaluation schedule”.

The inspection was the second monitoring visit since the academy became subject to special measures following the inspection which took place in May 2014.

Helen Morgan, head teacher of HLHS said: “We have undertaken a huge change programme in the school that is seeing improvements in teaching and a positive learning environment for students. The sponsorship with the Abbey Trust has already started to have a real impact.

“Its formalisation will support further improvements.”

HLHS is required by the Department for Education to be sponsored by another school. The aim is for Abbey Grange Academy to provide the challenge and support needed for HLHS to secure rapid and sustainable improvement.

Ahead of official confirmation from the DfE of the sponsorship, Abbey Grange has agreed to work with HLHS to support the school’s development.

Carol Kitson, chief executive officer at Abbey Multi Academy Trust, has been appointed to take on the role of interim executive head teacher at HLHS to provide support.