A ’SHOCKING’ Ofsted report has rated Ashlawn School as inadequate, nine years after its previous inspection saw it rated outstanding – prompting calls for an independent inquiry into the running of the school.
The school was rated inadequate, the lowest of four grades, in the ‘behaviour and attitudes’ category – a ‘limiting judgement’ which results in an overall inadequate grade.
Inspectors, who visited the school in November, said the school’s leadership and management, quality of education, and personal development all required improvement. Sixth-form provision was rated as good.
The report stated: “Pupils’ casual use of discriminatory language is commonplace. Many pupils do not recognise the value of courtesy and good behaviour. A minority of pupils struggle to manage their behaviour and are not being supported well to improve.”
Inspectors said school leaders’ vision for providing ‘a high-quality, inclusive education for all pupils’ was not fully understood across the school community, resulting in ‘uncertainty and instability’ in many aspects of school life.
They said: “Leaders have not ensured all teachers make effective and regular checks on pupils’ prior knowledge and learning in lessons, and do not routinely share information about pupils’ reading accuracy and fluency with teachers.”
A number of staff ‘raised concerns about their workload’.
The report also said leaders had not ensured all teachers supported pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) consistently well, meaning “some pupils with SEND do not get the support in lessons that is in line with the agreed strategies”.
The inspectors praised the school for its ‘rich and varied curriculum’, careers advice and support, and ‘effective’ arrangements for safeguarding, adding: “Many pupils happily attend school, and most feel safe. Most pupils told inspectors that staff deal with any incidents of bullying.”
James Higham, CEO of the Transforming Lives Educational Trust which runs the school, said: “We are saddened that the inspectors found we have a behaviour system that ‘disenfranchises students’ and creates a culture that isn’t built on the values that we hold so highly.
“We will be working with pace and purpose to realign, re-evaluate and move forward all that we do to help all of our students learn in a culture that they can thrive in and deserve.”
He said school leaders began taking action since the inspection by focusing on the climate and culture of the school, engaging with staff and students to feed their views into the School Improvement Plan, and commissioning an external review of Ashlawn’s SEND provision.
He added: “We have secured the services of a very experienced individual, Mr Brockwell, to work in partnership with Ashlawn’s Senior Leadership Team to drive the changes and improvements needed.
“No stone will be left unturned as we look to respond fully to the report. We will build on all our strengths and work tirelessly to enhance and strengthen any areas that need focus so that we can ensure our community has a consistent culture where every child can thrive academically and socially.”
Rugby’s Labour Party has called for an independent inquiry into the running of the school.
County Councillor Barbara Brown, Labour’s education spokesperson, said she was shocked at the inadequate rating, adding: “Many parents and carers will have very understandable concerns about the quality of education their children are receiving.
“This poor rating is the latest in a series of events at the School, including the resignation of very senior staff over recent months and concerns over student behaviour.
“The Transforming Lives Education Trust which runs Ashlawn is not transforming young people’s lives for the better, and we believe their stewardship of public money and their management of the school should be fully investigated.”
Coun Maggie O’Rourke, Leader of the Labour Group on Rugby Borough Council, said: “There are many concerns which parents and teachers have made me aware of – and ‘a fragmented culture in which staff and pupils are pulling in different directions’ is not the recipe for a happy and successful school.
“I believe it is time for the Trust which runs the school to be publicly held accountable for the events of recent years and this shocking report by Ofsted. Our children and young people deserve better.”