Heysham High head speaks out over ‘inadequate’ Ofsted report

Heysham High School.
Heysham High School.
3
Have your say

Heysham High School head John Shannon is confident the school is on the right path, despite Ofsted rating it ‘inadequate’ and placing it into special measures.

Mr Shannon said the staff and management have a long-term strategy aimed at leading the school forward following the disappointment of recent exam results and the inspection.

John Shannon, head at Heysham High School.

John Shannon, head at Heysham High School.

But he warned that the progress required can take several years.

“When I arrived there were only 1,000 books in the library and now we have 10,000,” said Mr Shannon, who was previously at Carnforth High.

“Literacy and community engagement are at the heart of what we are trying to do but these things take time.

“It takes three to five years to turn a school around and we know we have got a lot to do.

“It’s not about quick fixes, it’s about the longer term strategy.”

The Ofsted inspection, released last week, found that pupils did not make enough progress and teaching was inadequate.

Mr Shannon said he believes the school is already in a better position than when he joined. But he recognises that hard work is needed to bring standards back up to scratch.
Plans to join forces with another Lancashire school to become a joint academy should be approved in the coming months.

“The school feels very different from how it was when I arrived in 2013,” he said.

“I have been teaching for 19 years and you get a feel when you walk into a school. Everyone feels that what we are doing is right.

“We are very frustrated and disappointed but we believe in what we are doing to help move the school forward.

“For the last 14 months we have been looking at multi-academisation and we are waiting for approval on that now.

“We recognise that we face a number of things that we need to address. We recognise that we need some support to help move the school forward.

“The staff here work really hard so it’s disappointing.

“But if you get the learning environment right then everything else will follow.”

It is hoped that the school will become an academy by September, when it will be officially given a clean slate.
A new Ofsted inspection would then be carried out in the seventh term after academisation.

Meanwhile, the school has made an official complaint about the running of the Ofsted inspection, which also found achievement was inadequate, pupils’ literacy and communication skills are not developed well enough, behaviour is inadequate, attendance is too low and there have not been enough improvements in teaching and achievement or behaviour since the last inspection.

The report did however highlight several strengths of the school: the sixth form is improving; the headteacher has the confidence of the staff, who are positive about the school; the school takes care of pupils and systems for safeguarding are effective; pupils say they are well looked after and feel safe; teachers all have good relationships with pupils.

David Needham, chair of governors, said: “While we accept elements of the report we have raised our serious concerns with Ofsted about the quality of the inspection.

“In addition, we have formally invited the newly appointed chief inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, to visit the school and see the work the school has been doing to improve the life chances of the children in our care.”

“While we await Ofsted’s decision about our concerns, the school, as well as working alongside the local authority, will continue to benefit from formal support from an outstanding teaching school, headed by a National Leader of Education.

“I take my responsibility as chairman of governors very seriously. I can assure parents that the governing body will ensure no stone is left unturned in the drive to make Heysham High a school which prepares and inspires its students.”