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Special measures school needs to raise standards further

Ofsted inspectors have improved the rating of Fernhill School in Farnborough but have said it needs to make more progress

Fernhill School and Language College in Neville Duke Road

Leaders of Fernhill School in Farnborough have been told to raise standards further following its latest Ofsted inspection.

The inspection, the fourth visit by Ofsted since the secondary school was found to require special measures in September 2012, noted some progress had been made and raised its overall grade one rating from the lowest ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’.

It gave Fernhill’s leadership and management an individual ‘good’ rating and lifted the school out of special measures, meaning it will not need to be inspected again for two years.

But inspectors found that students ‘do not yet make good enough progress across a range of subjects’ including English and maths, and too few achieve the highest grades in their GCSE exams.

Headteacher Peter Collins arrived at Fernhill at the same time it was put into special measures after it had been rated ‘inadequate’ since mid-2011.

Mr Collins said the school had since made significant progress which was acknowledged in the latest report. He said he ‘fully anticipates’ it will be rated ‘good’ when inspectors return in 2016.

“Fernhill is on a journey towards being a good school and this report represents an important milestone,” he said in a letter to parents.

“It is significant that leadership and management are graded ‘good’, which reflects the inspectors’ confidence that the leaders are well placed to take the school on the next stage of its journey.”

Inspectors observed lessons and spoke to students, teachers, governors and parents.

“Although much improved, not enough teaching is currently good or better,” said the report.

“Planning is not always sufficiently focused on what skills or knowledge students need to learn in order to make good progress.

“Some teachers do not check carefully what progress students have made in lessons. Consequently, students are sometimes unclear about how well they have met their personal targets.”

The report criticised “a few teachers” who do not efficiently manage the time students spend in activities or who do not uphold standards of behaviour consistently.

But it also referred to the school’s strengths, in particular that students achieve well in history and that they feel safe thanks to good care and support systems.

“The decisive actions of leaders and governors have led to discernible improvements in the quality of teaching and in raising achievement for those students currently in the school,” the inspectors said.

“Arrangements for setting targets for teachers and supporting their training are comprehensive and effective.”

Mr Collins added: “Long-lasting school improvement, which ensures a school stays ‘good’ or better, cannot be achieved overnight.

“It should not be done with gimmicks or quick fixes but by making sure the foundations for long-term success are firmly established. The school has done extremely well in five terms to move out of special measures and address the issues from the last inspection.

"We shall continue to have the students’ best interests at the heart of all we do to improve the school further. Our aim remains to ensure that all our students have the very best of educational experiences and achieve the results they deserve.”

 

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