School in special measures

19/1/11- Blacklands School, Hastings
19/1/11- Blacklands School, Hastings

A PRIMARY school has been placed in special measures by Ofsted inspectors after receiving a damning report.

Blacklands School, in Osborne Close, Freshwater Avenue, was given an ‘inadequate’ rating, the lowest score possible.

Level one is outstanding, level two is good, level three’s rating is ‘requires improvement’, while level four is inadequate.

Inspectors criticised the teaching at Blacklands, saying it was ‘particularly weak’ in years one to four.

Ofsted also said school leaders were not doing enough to improve the quality of teaching and more was needed to improve pupils’ behaviour.

Blacklands’ last inspection was in 2010 when it was rated as ‘good’.

In the Ofsted report, which was published this week, Anthony Byrne, lead inspector, said: “Teaching is inadequate because teachers’ expectations of pupils’ capabilities are too low. Pupils, particularly boys, underachieve in English and mathematics and they do not use their literacy and numeracy skills well enough in other subjects.

“Information about what pupils can already do is not used well enough to plan lessons which challenge them to move on.

“Behaviour is not good because too often dull lessons do not stimulate most pupils and consequently they do not get involved. In a small number of lessons in years one to four, pupils misbehave and teachers do not deal with this robustly enough.

“The local authority has increased involvement and support by appointing an appropriately experienced management consultant to work with the headteacher, conducting a full school review and sending in a mathematics expert to help improve standards and teaching.”

However inspectors said the head of Blacklands had identified why pupils have been making less progress than they should be and implemented measures to tackle weaknesses.

They also said children in the Cotton Tree Unit at the school were very settled, thanks to expert support of specialist staff. The unit looks after children with autism.

Lorraine Clarke, who was appointed headteacher of Blacklands School in September, said: “The staff and governors are determined and committed to moving the school forward rapidly.

“Since taking over the school, it has been my vision to provide the very best for all pupils. We aim to be judged Good by Ofsted within the next two years. We have a clear, robust support plan which builds on the areas of good practice introduced since my arrival.”

She added the school is now working closely with the county council, which is providing consultants to develop staffs’ skills and improve quality of teaching, behaviour, leadership and management, including governance.