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Staffordshire University Academy put in special measures as pupil behaviour criticised

By Jack Averty | Hednesford | Ofsted reports | Published: | Last Updated:

A school where pupils were seen throwing objects in class and using homophobic slurs has been put into special measures.

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Staffordshire University Academy, in Marston Road, Hednesford, has been rated inadequate in every category bar one by Ofsted.

Inspectors described the school’s teaching as ‘inadequate’ and said ‘almost no drama or music’ was being taught.

Ofsted was also critical of the behaviour of some of the 600 pupils.

A report prepared after inspectors visited at the end of April said: “Behaviour in some lessons is unacceptable. Pupils were heard using homophobic language; some sat with their feet on desks, others were calling out and ignoring their teachers.

"In a few lessons, objects were thrown across the room during lessons. Pupils’ learning was significantly hampered in these lessons.”

Inspectors added: “Teaching lacks the challenge necessary for pupils to achieve their potential. In too many lessons, learning is slow or disrupted by poor behaviour. For many pupils, especially disadvantaged pupils, progress is not good.

“Much learning does not engage pupils, so they do not put much effort into their work and make little progress. The lack of breadth in the school’s curriculum has not helped pupils’ engagement.

“Very few pupils have been able to follow courses in geography, history and languages. Pupils have been required to follow courses that add little value to their future employability.”

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Ofsted, which gives schools up and down the country a rating of either outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate, had particularly scathing criticism for leadership at the school.

Its report said: “Leaders have an over-optimistic view of current pupils’ progress, especially progress being made by disadvantaged pupils in core subjects.

"Leaders have been over-reliant on middle leaders, who have an insecure understanding of whether pupils are making progress in the core subjects at key stages 3 and 4.

“Leaders are not evaluating the impact of decisions in relation to course choices. For example, almost all pupils in key stage 4 are following a course although leaders cannot point to any clear objective evidence that it is helping pupils’ employability.”

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However the academy was praised for its cultural and careers education, as well as its safeguarding arrangements.

The Hednesford academy is the only secondary school run by the Staffordshire University Academies Trust (SUAT), which is sponsored by Staffordshire University and operates seven primaries across the county.

Commenting on the report, Keith Hollins chief executive officer of SUAT said: “This is clearly a major disappointment.

"We are surprised by this judgement given the positive changes made at the Academy in the last two years, which addressed issues raised by the previous inspection.

"We are encouraged by the fact that our community of staff students and parents recognises that we are improving and that we are striving to provide a good quality education for our students.

"Over the last three years the number of pupils being admitted to SUA has doubled in each year group and we feel this is an expression of the confidence our community has in the academy.

“The Academy has started work on a Statement of Action to effect rapid change and improvement.

"We have made three additional appointments to the Senior Leadership Team for September 2017 and are commissioning support for key areas of the curriculum from two outstanding academies in North Staffordshire.”

We have met with parents to talk through the report findings and reassure them that we are working hard with headteacher Rowena Hillier and governors to address these issues.”

Professor Liz Barnes, Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University added: “Our new deputy vice-chancellor Martin Jones will be working closely with SUA to address issues raised in this report.

"We will be working hard to drive standards, improve results, raise aspirations and help pupils achieve their ambitions.”

Jack Averty

By Jack Averty
Senior Reporter - @javerty_star

Reporter with the Express & Star, based at head office in Wolverhampton

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