Agenda item

Update on inspections

Minutes:

Before moving to the first agenda item Mike Stoneman, Deputy Director of Children, Families & Education, gave an update on recent Ofsted inspections.

 

The UTC (University Technical College) Portsmouth had had a Section 8 inspection which turned into a two day Section 5 inspection when it became clear substantial progress had been made, and that safeguarding was now effective. The UTC is now Outstanding across all judgement areas. Staff have been informed and the outcome has been published on the Ofsted website.

 

Just under 92% (91.7%) Portsmouth schools are Good or Outstanding and 93.4% children attend them. Wimborne Primary is excluded from these figures as it is a new school created from the amalgamation of Wimborne Infant and Wimborne Junior Schools, both of which were both Good prior to the amalgamation. Four schools Require Improvement (Castle View Academy, Stamshaw Junior, Milton Park Primary, Westover Primary) and Corpus Christi Catholic Primary is Inadequate because of safeguarding concerns, which in turn means leadership is inadequate. It is hoped at the next Section 8 inspection the outcome will improve as was the case at UTC Portsmouth. Officers are satisfied that safeguarding is now effective. When schools are judged Inadequate they are issued with an Academy Order by the RSC. As a result Corpus Christi has become part of the Edith Stein Catholic Academy Trust (Oaklands School). However, the council still works closely with Corpus Christi. Debbie Anderson, Head of School Improvement & Early Years, has worked with the new headteacher, who was appointed last September, and has visited regularly. Participation in the Destination Reader programme and the use of systematic synthetic phonics have helped improve literacy at KS2. Ofsted monitoring visits in the autumn and spring were positive.

 

In response to questions from members about the Portsmouth Paradox (where despite schools having good Ofsted outcomes attainment and progress remains relatively low), officers explained there is no easy answer and attainment and progress still need to improve. Poor school attendance remains a significant factor, particularly at secondary level. There is also a high rate of fixed-term exclusions. There were a number of schools in difficult circumstances some years ago (most of which are now academies) and although they are moving in the right direction improvements are gradual. It takes time to improve a failing school. There are significant variations across Portsmouth; some schools improve but then have a difficult cohort which leads to turbulence. Officers are optimistic that the implementation of the priorities that make up the Portsmouth Education Strategy will lead to further improvements. The proof of this will not be available until next year (2022) when the first set of results since the pandemic will be published.

 

It was noted that two-thirds of schools belong to 14 Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs), which the RSC holds accountable for improving standards. The council works with the remaining third of LA maintained schools and focuses on those who need additional help.

 

In response to concerns that the 2020 and 2021 results would be inflated or inconsistent, officers said they would examine the 2022 results carefully. They are not taking their foot off the pedal when it comes to improving standards and recently requested a meeting with the Schools Minister Nick Gibb to discuss the issue and the paradox described above. They acknowledged that some areas with higher levels of deprivation achieve better results but some like London receive significantly more funding per pupil. Areas like Hastings and Medway have results very similar to Portsmouth, especially for white British boys, whose low attainment is a national issue.