Ofsted rates Haverhill school as ‘requires improvement’ but praises new head

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A Haverhill secondary school has vowed to continue the hard work made in the last 18 months after an Ofsted inspection judged them as ‘requires improvement’.

Castle Manor Academy rated it as ‘requires improvement’ in all areas of inspection by Ofsted inspectors.

The school was inspected on January 26 and 27 – less than two months after it joined the Samuel Ward Academy Trust (SWAT).

The inspectors’ report says the trust’s officers have ‘played an important role in supporting recent improvements even before the school formally joined the trust’.

Ofsted highlighted that progress by disadvantaged pupils was below national average, boys do not do as well as girls, middle ability pupils were not always being challenged, pupils persistent absence was too high and governors were not holding teaching leaders to account for poor progress.

But it also praised Vanessa Whitcombe, who joined the school as head teacher in April, for recognising its strengths and weaknesses and using that to plan rapid improvements.

Mrs Whitcombe said: “The inspection mirrored our own evaluation and gave us reassurance that the work we are doing is beginning to have an impact and raise standards.

“Joining the Samuel Ward Academy Trust galvanises our work and provides the necessary support and challenge to make these rapid improvements happen.

“I hope parents will see the hard work that has been going on at the school.”

The report also praised pupils for developing ‘positive and constructive attitudes to their own learning’.

Howard Lay, chief executive of Samuel Ward Academy Trust, said: “The Ofsted report is accurate and helpful because it supports the action plan we have developed.

“With the support of the Samuel Ward Academy Trust, I am absolutely confident that Castle Manor will quickly become a good school, something the leadership at the school is determined to achieve.”

Since joining the Trust, senior staff at Castle Manor have benefitted from training through the SWAT’s teaching school, the Suffolk Borders Teaching Alliance, as well as benefitting from regular meetings with other relevant leaders from across the Trust.