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Principal defends Casterton Business and Enterprise College despite Ofsted rating drop

Photo: MSMP210812-034ow'Casterton Business and Enterprise College, Great Casterton. File picture. ENGEMN00120120822155747
Photo: MSMP210812-034ow'Casterton Business and Enterprise College, Great Casterton. File picture. ENGEMN00120120822155747

A principal has insisted her secondary school is still excellent despite dropping two grades in its latest Ofsted inspection.

Victoria Crosher said changes to the inspection framework were largely to blame for the ‘requires improvement’ grade inspectors gave Casterton Business and Enterprise College last week.

The school, in Great Casterton, was rated outstanding four years ago.

After their visit in November, inspectors found problems with achievement in English, performance of disadvantaged pupils, teachers’ expectations, pupils’ attendance and senior leaders’ efforts to improve priority areas. They also said results at the school’s sixth form partner Rutland County College were below average.

But Mrs Crosher said staff, directors, parents and the local community still thought the school was “excellent”. She said Ofsted’s framework had changed “significantly” since the previous inspection in 2010, and this had highlighted performance in two “very specific” areas; the progress of students in receipt of the new pupil premium (free school meals) and the new grade boundaries for GCSE English.

Mrs Crosher said those receiving the pupil premium at Casterton made “significantly better progress” than the national average and the gap between their performance and that of the rest of the school was 19 per cent as opposed to 27 per cent nationally.

She also said the boundary for a grade C in GCSE English had risen by 10 per cent in 2012, placing those who took their exams in June that year “at a disadvantage”. And in 2014 speaking and listening were removed from the assessment process.

“This was often the strongest element of performance for our students so it had a negative impact on results”, said Mrs Crosher.

She added: “In all other respects the school is doing very well but the way the inspection framework works means that all grades are aligned with the grade on achievement and that cannot exceed a three (requires improvement) because of these very specific issues.

“The quality of teaching, and in particular English teaching, is very high and this was never in doubt. Neither was it about behaviour which the inspectors verbally acknowledged was excellent.”

A new principal, Carl Smith, will take over from Mrs Crosher in April. Mr Smith currently is in charge at Rutland County College. Mrs Crosher said: “He is a highly successful and experienced school leader with an excellent track record and he has been looking closely at the findings of the inspection and addressing them in his plans for the future.

“Our post Ofsted plan is being produced and has to be agreed with governors over the coming weeks and a considerable amount of time and resources are being devoted to ensuring that our results this year are excellent.

“Our priority - that children enjoy school, are enriched by their time at the college, and that they leave with the very best results that they are capable of – is unchanged.”

In the Ofsted report released on Wednesday last week inspectors said achievement in English was not good and pupils were not making enough progress, especially in writing.

They found disadvantaged pupils were not doing as well as their classmates and the quality of teaching over time had not led to good progress. The report said teachers “do no always have high enough expectations for what all students can achieve.”

Inspectors said results at Rutland County College were below average and pupils had not made enough progress. They found many disadvantaged pupils, those in the sixth form and with special educational needs did not attend often enough.

The report said leaders and governors had not made improvements quickly enough, extra funding for Year 7 literacy had not been effective enough and governors had not made sure senior staff were doing enough to improve priority areas.

Inspectors did praise progress in maths and science, recent improvements in sixth form results and pupils’ safety and social development.

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