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Lowestoft school slated by inspectors

PUBLISHED: 20:44 29 April 2009 | UPDATED: 09:14 06 July 2010

School inspectors have issued a damning report on the standards of education being provided to pupils at the biggest school in Lowestoft.

Ofsted branded the overall quality of education at Kirkley High School as "inadequate", giving it the lowest possible rating and placing it on special measures.

School inspectors have issued a damning report on the standards of education being provided to pupils at the biggest school in Lowestoft.

Ofsted branded the overall quality of education at Kirkley High School as “inadequate”, giving it the lowest possible rating and placing it on special measures.

Parents of the school's 1,171 pupils today received a letter from headteacher Richard Pickard in which he conceded the judgement was accurate, but pledged to oversee major improvements.

The Ofsted report said: “The overall quality of education has deteriorated considerably since the school was previously inspected [2006]. A culture in which there is insufficient commitment to the value of learning has not been fully tackled.”

The report said the school's governing body had shown a “real commitment” to the school, but that it had “presided over a serious decline in both the quality of education and the school's finances, which are in deficit”.

It added: “The school's capacity to improve is inadequate. Pupils make inadequate progress and the standards they reach are very low. This is because the quality of teaching is not good enough…”

Inspectors, who visited the school last month, recognised Mr Pickard had been quick to make “significant” changes since he joined Kirkley in September last year, but said he had not been in post long enough to have a “strong enough” influence.

Being put on special measures means the school must adopt a detail action plan to make improvements, with local authority support. It can only be removed from special measures following a new inspection.

In his letter to parents, Mr Pickard said: “Undoubtedly, there are harsh statements within the report, but in most cases they are counteracted by positive comments related to more recent practice.

“I believe that the judgement is an accurate reflection of the three-year declining statistical profile of our school and that there is acknowledgement of the potential of initiatives implemented since September. There is a clear message; improve pupil progress. This is exactly what we intend to do.”

In a press statement, Mr Pickard said GCSE results had started to improve and pointed to sport as being one of the school's great strengths.

He added the fact business studies had been reported as high-achieving by inspectors was “exciting” and highlighted the finding that pupil behaviour had improved.

“I came to Kirkley because I recognised the need for the school to improve very quickly to offer a high standard of education to all pupils at the school,” added Mr Pickard.

Mr Pickard revealed a government adviser was helping to improvement achievement while new investment from a national and local level was supporting the work. Additional money is also being applied for.

Rosalind Turner, director for children and young people at Suffolk County Council, said: “We are already working hard with the school to implement a series of steps to rapidly improve education achievement at the school.”

The full report will be available on the Ofsted website - www.ofsted.gov.uk - from May 6.

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