To receive information on schools’ performance and to review recent Ofsted reports.
The Committee received a report giving details of the Ofsted reports of the following schools: Coombes CofE Primary; Oaklands Infant; Westend Junior; Oakbank and Winnersh Primary.
Alan Stubbersfield, Interim Head of Learning and Achievement offered to answer any questions relating to the reports. The Committee went through the Ofsted reports school by school and some of the points made are listed below.
Coombes Church of England Primary School
· The Chairman confirmed that following the Coombes School Ofsted inspection, a Task and Finish Group had been set up to understand what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening to other schools in the Borough. This was still ongoing, the final report and recommendations would be presented to the Committee when ready. It was expected this would be ready by November 2016;
· Alan stated that an Interim Headteacher had been appointed and an Interim Executive Board had been set up to manage the school. The Board included a member from the Oxford Diocese who had a view to establish a Church of England Academy ;
· Alan stated that the school had started the new academic year well, with a number of new teacher appointments;
· The Local Authority was regularly monitoring the school and Alan would report back on its progress;
· In response to a question, Alan stated that it was possible that by next September the situation could have reverted as there was now a strong leadership in place;
· Alan explained that in his view the school had not handled the inspection well and had lacked confidence;
· Judith pointed out that there were many good leaders in schools around the Borough;
· Members asked Officers how long before the inspection had it been identified that the school was underachieving. Members were concerned they were not being informed of schools’ underachievement in sufficient time before this was released to the press. Judith confirmed that such information was kept confidential as there was a process to be followed, sometimes there were issues to do with HR and the police, at times it was in the best interest of public accountability to keep information confidential;
· Councillor Haitham Taylor emphasized that it was important to be very careful with information, there were examples of information going onto Facebook and other social media within hours of it being disclosed;
· Members asked to be sent the Terms of Reference of the Coombes Schools Task and Finish Group. Luciane Bowker, Senior Democratic Officer reminded Members that this was a confidential paper.
Oaklands Infant School
· Alan stated that this had been a one day inspection and the report was very positive;
· Judith reminded Members that bar had risen with the new inspection format, therefore to remain ‘good’ equated to an excellent result;
· In response to a question Alan stated that all schools in Wokingham had the potential to attain ‘outstanding’ results.
Westende Junior School
· Alan stated that this was a good report, and declared that credit should be given to the Headteacher Dominic Cook, who had been covering maternity leave at the time of the inspection;
· Alan informed that ‘writing’ was an area that needed improving in most schools in the Borough, as evidenced by the feedback given in most Ofsted reports;
· In response to a question, Judith confirmed that all schools that achieved good Ofsted results received a letter from the Council praising their achievement.
· The Chairman noted the considerable progress achieved by Oakbank, going from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Good’ and asked Officers how long it had taken to turn the school around. Alan believed it had taken around 18 months for the school to achieve this result;
· Councillor Haitham Taylor stated that a new Headteacher and a new Deputy Headteacher had made a significant difference and had enabled the necessary changes to achieve this result;
· In response to a comment, Alan confirmed that smaller schools were more volatile. Oakbank was a new school which was growing each year, this growth generated more staff, more pupils and more funding;
· Judith emphasised that it had been the strong leadership and not the growth of the school alone that had enabled the school to achieve its ‘Good’ Ofsted rating;
· Members were in agreement that strong leadership was crucial to the achievements of any school;
· Councillor Dolinski pointed out that ‘Outstanding’ ratings would only be achieved with strong leadership.
· Members were pleased to note that the school had gone from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Good’.
RESOLVED That the summary of five schools with Ofsted reports published between June 2016 and August 2016 be noted.