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Dudley's Holly Hall Academy told to improve quicker by Ofsted

Dudley | News | Published:

A Dudley secondary school has been told its rate of improvement is 'too slow' following a monitoring visit from Ofsted.

Senior leaders and governors at Holly Hall Academy were said to be 'not taking effective action' to tackle areas highlighted for improvement identified in the school's previous inspection in May 2015.

On that occasion the academy was given a grade three rating overall, with all four key areas of leadership and management, pupil behaviour and safety, quality of teaching and achievement said to require improvement.

  • Click here to see the full Ofsted report

Following a monitoring visit on April 22, inspectors concluded that the rate of improvement - especially in the quality of teaching - had been 'too slow'.

The report said this was down to 'leaders and governors focusing their energies on addressing the school's financial and staffing issues'.

It said that in September Holly Hall was a school facing 'significant financial challenges' and 'legacy issues of staffing and leadership structures'.

Leaders were said to 'not have an accurate view of strengths and weaknesses in teaching' across the school, leading to a failure to target training in areas where it was most needed.

However, the report notes that the pace of improvement has increased since the arrival of principal Rob Hatch last September.

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It says pupils now receive better feedback on their work, while teaching in science - previously identified as a weakness - was said to be improving due to 'good subject leadership'.

Her Majesty's Inspector Alun Williams wrote: "The principal, supported by an increasingly effective senior leadership team, has brought a clear vision and a determination to improve Holly Hall.

"Senior leaders have an accurate understanding of the school's strengths and weaknesses and have drawn up detailed and comprehensive improvement plans that tackle head on its weaknesses.

"However, it is too early for many of the actions contained in the plans to have yielded improvement."

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The report also said that pupils' behaviour was improving, with 'clear new systems' resulting in 'fewer fixed term exclusions and internal isolations, and less disruption of lessons'.

"Leaders are aware that more work is needed to eradicate disruption of lessons caused by the poor behaviour of a minority of pupils," it added.

Attendance at the academy was said to now be close to the national average. "Leaders know that further improving the attendance of disadvantaged pupils is a priority," the report added.

The ability of governors to challenge leaders was said to be 'improving' in the report, although 'they do not currently have the expertise to scrutinise and independently check the information they are given'.

Holly Hall Academy principal Rob Hatch said: "The recent HMI Monitoring letter is a fair reflection of the work being undertaken at Holly Hall.

"Governors, senior leaders and staff are working really hard to improve the academy further and continue to drive up standards.

"HMI agreed with Holly Hall's self-evaluation about standards and were realistic about the further improvements required. Holly Hall is very ambitious to reach the status of "Good" by the next inspection.

"The HMI visit was both transparent and supportive. To further engage with parents Holly Hall will be establishing a new termly parents forum."

The first forum is due to take place on May 26 at 6pm at the academy.

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