Neither the staff nor the pupils at Bruntcliffe School are afraid of hard work – and the results of that are paying off quickly.
Last year Ofsted inspectors found the school to have ‘serious weaknesses’. It was a verdict that could have proved devastating but headteacher Heather Scott, who had been at the school only a few months, accepted it as a challenge.
Her masterplan for Bruntcliffe was to have it ranked as ‘outstanding’ within five years - and after the school’s most recent Ofsted visit it’s clear the progress already being made makes her target achievable.
Mrs Scott said she was pleased with the report published by Ofsted inspector Heather Richardson - who officially reported the school was making ‘reasonable progress’ - as she could see the improvements that had already been put in place through sheer hard work to create the best possible learning environment for pupils.
The strengths noticed by the inspector included the setting up of systems and procedures for all its key activities and monitoring, which was contributing to the focus and speed of improvements at the school.
She noted the balance of accountability with support, which was matched to the needs of individual teachers or managers to develop their expertise and also that Bruntcliffe’s strongest teachers were working to share their good practice by planning and delivering training sessions to other colleagues.
On the latter point Mrs Scott said the school was raising standards using the expertise it had developed in-house to continually improve and challenge staff.
The children’s performances are also being closely monitored to ensure that any pupil who needs special attention receives it at the earliest opportunity.
“We are striving to ensure that every single pupil makes at least three levels of progress throughout their time with us,” she said.
“Our subject leaders are using the latest data management systems to track pupils’ progress from Year 7 to Year 13, so that we can pinpoint quickly if any interventions are required.
“The school’s own monitoring, the evidence from consultants and from this inspection evidence, all confirm progress and improved outcomes for pupils since the school’s inspection.
“One example is the improved provision for disabled pupils and those with special educational needs.”
Bruntclife’s results in the 2013 national examinations and assessment showed gains at Key Stage Four and post-16 across most subjects and more pupils made better progress.
Attendance is also on the up.
“We have a very strong and talented pastoral team, who work with our families to ensure all pupils are in school,” said Mrs Scott.
“That team has exceeded the national average for attendance and we have set ourselves higher targets, to continually push for excellence. “Our improved behaviour systems focus on ‘Attitude-Behaviour-Community’ and we reinforce this weekly through our assemblies with our young people, and also through huge displays around the school.
“In this way, we focus the pupils’ energies into improving their own attitudes for learning, their social and learning behaviours and the importance of being a loyal member of our community.”
Mrs Scott said the latest Ofsted findings had been a huge boost for everyone.
“It is encouraging that the Ofsted team could see the improvements we have already made,” she said.
“We have worked hard to share the vision for excellence for all across our school community and to encourage our pupils to aim high. We know that every pupil and every member of staff is focused on our journey to become an outstanding school – and it’s gratifying that Heather Richardson could see that in action during her visit.”
Ofsted will be back at Bruntcliffe in a few months’ time – and the visit will hold no fear for Mrs Scott.
“I’m really looking forward to welcoming the Ofsted team back to show them the progress we’ve made towards becoming an outstanding school,” she said.
To read the full Ofsted report go to www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports
l In next week’s Observer & Advertiser we take a look at Bruntcliffe’s Guided Learning Unit.