Ofsted claims school is ‘inadequate’

DEFENDING REPUTATION: Wellfield Business and Enterprise College headteacher Piers Tolson
DEFENDING REPUTATION: Wellfield Business and Enterprise College headteacher Piers Tolson

A Leyland high school has vowed to defend its reputation after being slammed by education inspectors.

Ofsted called Wellfield Business and Enterprise College ‘inadequate’ – a judgement headteacher Piers Tolson says is wrong.

The Yewlands Drive school was told by the watchdog that no aspect of life at the school met required standards after the inspection, carried out at two days’ notice in the middle of GCSE exams.

Reacting to the report, which has just been published, Mr Tolson said he did not agree with the scathing outcomes of Ofsted, but said targets were already in place, and everyone at the school would be working hard to make improvements.

He said: “This is a judgement which Ofsted has come into our school and made.

“The question now is what we do with that.

“I wholeheartedly believe they have got parts of this wrong. But I have to make sure we address the issues they have raised, and we have to do it rapidly.”

According to Ofsted, Wellfield, which was deemed to have some very good and outstanding qualities at its inspection four years ago, is “inadequate” in all five inspection areas.

The inspection criteria has been changed twice this year, and, until the most recent change, Wellfield would have been graded satisfactory. That classification has now been removed.

The final report stated the school “is failing to give its students an acceptable standard of education, and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement”.

It went on to say that the quality of teaching seen ranged from “outstanding to inadequate” but said learning wasn’t suitably matched to students’ needs.

Pupils’ behaviour was criticised, and although an “overwhelming majority of parents and carers” who responded to an inspection questionnaire said they were happy with progress their children made, the inspectors didn’t share their view.

The school has 460 pupils on roll.

Mr Tolson, who has been at the helm for nearly five years, said: “The staff have been working really hard to make sure we address this.

“When we got the report, I drafted a letter with the chair of governors, who then sent it out to every parent, with a copy of the report.

“For many parents and staff it has come as a great shock.

“We have had some very supportive parents contact us to say the report is wrong about the standards and life at the school.

“But in order for Ofsted to get to those judgements, some of that was from student and parents questionnaires.

“There were regrettably some incidents over the course of the inspection which gave some weight to the way Ofsted based their framework and judgements.

“That’s the message for all schools, that we need to be even better. We can’t be complacent.

“I feel a child that comes to Wellfield ready to learn will learn, and will make progress.”

The school will now be inspected for the next five terms.

Mr Tolson said: “The plans and targets are in place, and now we need to make that happen.

“That will require really hard work and dedication from everyone at the school.

“Ofsted will keep coming back until they feel the school has made the improvements.

“They are extremely stringent, and if the schools are not achieving what they expect, then they explore all the possible reasons, and unpick everything to find out why.

“We need to make sure we move on from this.”

New structures have been put in place to improve lesson planning, new technology installed, and work has been done over the summer in training staff to better track pupil progress.

- What do you think? Email charlotte.wareing@lep.co.uk with your views.