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Joseph Leckie Academy: Standards slip at Walsall secondary school

By Carl Jackson | Walsall | Ofsted reports | Published:

Standards have fallen at a large secondary school in Walsall with a Government watchdog criticising teaching and attendance among other shortcomings.

One of Ofsted’s main concerns following the latest visit to Joseph Leckie Academy was the lack of progress being made by white pupils at the academy, which has more than 1,300 students who are predominantly from minority ethnic backgrounds.

The regulator rated the school, on Walstead Road West, Walsall, as ‘Requires Improvement’ overall, slipping from its 2013 judgement of ‘Good’. It comes on the back of a multi-million pound Government funding rejection the school suffered in 2015 although they were eventually successful with a £4 million bid this year which will see building work to replace dilapidated and asbestos-ridden buildings from next year.

Principal Keith Whittlestone did not blame the initial setback for having an impact on overall standards. He said teaching weaknesses which were highlighted, particularly in science and geography as well as modern and foreign languages, were down to recent staff changes. But Mr Whittlestone agreed with inspectors that attendance was an issue and said it was difficult to help pupils who ‘are not in school often enough’.

Keith Whittlestone.

He added: “Overall we were surprised at the outcome and the criticisms. We were disappointed they (Ofsted) came to that conclusion. The members of the inspection team have said lots of good and positive things about the academy as well as areas where we need to improve and we are already working really hard to address those issues in science, geography and modern foreign languages. Without making excuses there are lots of reasons for pupils not making progress. You can’t work with youngsters who are not in school often enough.”

Three of the five key areas were rated ‘Requires Improvement’. They were the categories around pupil outcomes, teaching and leadership. The report stated: “Despite the ambition leaders have for pupils, particularly in key stages 3 and 4, their actions have not brought about sufficiently rapid improvement in outcomes particularly in modern foreign languages, science and for disadvantaged pupils, those that are white British and pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities.”

Addressing the point Mr Whittlestone said the school provided ‘individual support’ and a ‘personalised response’ for any pupil falling below standards. The ‘personal development’ of pupils was rated ‘Good’ as was the sixth form.

Read the full Ofsted report here.

Carl Jackson

By Carl Jackson
Reporter - @cjackson_star

Senior reporter for Staffordshire and Walsall.

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