Struggling school could finish early to train staff

Headteacher of Wellfield Business and Enterprise College, Piers Tolson
Headteacher of Wellfield Business and Enterprise College, Piers Tolson

The headteacher of a high school placed into special measures by Ofsted is proposing the school closes at lunchtime once a week to allow more time for staff training.

Piers Tolson, of Wellfield Business and Enterprise College, has written to parents about the idea to shut the school after lunchtime on Tuesdays from September.

He said it will help address some of the issues which were raised during Ofsted’s last monitoring visit to the school.

He wrote: “Research shows that staff training is powerful in driving up standards, particularly when it is done as a whole school.

“With all the pressures on schools and the expectations for ‘interventions’ after school hours, the opportunity for staff to work together effectively has been reduced.

“I believe the end result of such an initiative will lead to a measurable improvement in the quality of teaching.”

He told the Guardian: “I’m still seeking advice about this, but I know of a few schools across Lancashire which already do something similar.

“It’s got to be done for the right reasons, and time really is precious for us at Wellfield. It’s about the power of training together and sharing good practice across the school.

“It has drastic effects working together, because we’ve found that staff make better progress when they work with peers and share ideas.”

Pupils will be able to stay in school if they wish, to catch up with homework and take part in extra curricular activities, such as sport, art and music, instead of those sessions taking place after school hours.

Ofsted announced the school is making progress towards the removal of special measures, but Mr Tolson is still pushing for the school to become an academy.

He said: “It’s unlikely we will become an academy in September as we’d first hoped, because these things take time, and it’s looking more like it will be January now.”

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