Hameldon ‘heading in right direction’ says headteacher

HAMELDON Community College headteacher Gill Broom believes the school is heading in the right direction after its latest Ofsted report.

Despite the Coal Clough Lane school being given a notice to improve by inspectors, Miss Broom is confident the pieces are now in place for Hameldon to move forward with confidence.

The report, which states the school has been through “a turbulent period of change and has dealt with a number of substantial challenges”, branded its overall effectiveness as inadequate and said the school’s capacity for sustained improvement was satisfactory.

Student progress and attainment were the main concerns identified by inspectors but the report did praise measures already been put in a place to tackle this.

“There are a lot of positives within the report but the one issue identified is that of progress,” said Miss Broom. “Progress is a limiting judgement in terms of the present framework and in terms of other judgements that can be made and we firmly believe that when we are re-inspected next time, those threes (satisfactory) can become twos (good)”

Miss Broom identified a change of curriculum, altered to help pupils more on an individual level, as one of the main reasons progress had faltered.

“We changed our curriculum in September 2009 as we realised it wasn’t appropriate for students as they went into Key Stage 4. We’ve looked at each individual student and then in liaison with parents, students and carers put them on a variety of different pathways.

“So we have an academic pathway which is all GCSEs, then we have BTECs, people going off site to college and Prince’s Trust qualifications. It’s totally different than what we have had before and we know already, like with the BTECs, there have been some outstanding achievements.”

Pupils moved to the new site in September, one of the last Building Schools for the Future schools to be housed, and inspectors said this had had a “strong and positive impact on the self-esteem of students and staff” – something Miss Broom agreed with.

“The school has moved and its been a period of change. We needed to make sure parents and students felt we were settled in the school so we’ve done a lot in terms of care guidance and support.

“Our attendance is improving and is currently running at 93% which is up 4% from this time last year. In terms of behaviour, the report says this is satisfactory but it says there has been a relentless approach by staff to tackle it. There is a small minority which we identify at around 10 or 11 pupils. These all have mentors and there is weekly if not daily contact with their parents regarding their behaviour. They have responded very positively to this and we talk a lot about having pride in the school.

“Obviously in reality it’s not always smooth but to me it’s about the processes, the systems and the communication of praising the good things but also saying this is unacceptable in preparing them for adult life and work.”

Inspectors issued a questionnaire to parents and of the 76 completed, results showed a majority felt their child was safe at school, enjoyed it there and was making good progress – a big positive in the eyes of Miss Broom.

“You look at the questionnaire given out and 99% feel the school is safe and 92% of parents agree or strongly agree the school is well managed. They are not saying progress is not being made. But we know progress isn’t what it should be and we’ve got measures in place which should start to impact soon.”

Inspectors do stress that although the quality of teaching is improving, the “teaching and learning are not consistently strong enough to ensure students make the rapid progress needed to raise attainment”.

Miss Broom responded to this by saying although the report had only just come out staff were already showing a desire to get in the classroom, plan hard and ensure pupils reach these levels.

“The staff have shown great commitment to the students. They want to be here and work with the students of South West Burnley. They really want to continue to provide the activities but also make sure the progress students make is appropriate.

“The progress is the one bit of the jigsaw we still have to work on but all the other bits of the jigsaw are in place. Attendance has risen, persistent absentees have fallen, lates have fallen and we have Student Governing Body who meet governors to discuss any issues.”

And although the school currently only has 430 pupils enrolled out of a possible 750, Miss Broom feels this will increase now the school is settled.

“I think there was a lot of concern about where the school was and where the school was going to be built etc. But what we are saying now is that we are here, we are here to stay and there are things which our school can offer. We’re small, we’re safe, the staff know the pupils, the staff know the parents and carers and the parents and carers know the staff. Also, when we first opened we didn’t have the sports facilities like the other BSF schools but they’ll all be ready in September.”