‘Both schools need to improve rapidly’ - The Hewett School and Sewell Park College in Norwich placed in special measures
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2014
Two prominent city schools are today blasted as failing, but their head teachers have vowed to fight back.
Ofsted inspectors have placed Sewell Park College and the Hewett School in special measures, in damning reports published today.
Both schools replaced their head teachers in September, and both men have pledged to halt sliding standards and turn their respective school around.
Sewell Park College, formerly Blyth Jex School, had 989 school pupils and 96 sixth formers when it last had a full Ofsted inspection in 2010.
It had struggled to shake off the perception of being a struggling school despite being free of Ofsted's inadequate tag since 2000, and trouble returned with a disappointing set of GCSE results in summer 2013.
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The Hewett School had 829 pupils on its school roll and 180 at its sixth form when inspected last year.
It has been affected by falling pupil numbers - understood to have halved from more than 1,500 in 2004 - which critics have blamed on academy schools.
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Phil Hearne, interim headteacher at the Hewett, who started in his role in September, admitted that the Ofsted decision to place the school in special measures had been 'expected' due to the 'turbulence the school has faced over the last year'.
The school hit the headlines this spring as a £430,000 budget deficit was revealed, caused by dwindling pupil numbers.
Mr Hearne said changes had already begun, and added: 'Significant improvements are still needed and we are determined to work with both the county council and Ofsted to ensure that standards improve.'
Consultant headteacher Jeremy Rowe took the reins at Sewell Park College in September, and is supported by an interim executive board (IEB) that was set up in July.
The chairman of the board is John Catton, himself an experienced troubleshooting head teacher who has worked at schools across the region including Hethersett Academy and Great Yarmouth High School.
In a written statement, Mr Catton said: 'We have some way to go but we now have the building blocks in place and we are determined that rapid improvement will continue.'
James Joyce, chairman of children's services at Norfolk County Council, said: 'These judgments [by Ofsted] mirror our own assessments of both schools and we have already used our powers to intervene at both Sewell Park and The Hewett, due to ongoing concerns about standards.
'In spite of their previous Ofsted gradings, we had rated both schools as schools of concern.'
An IEB is already in place at Sewell Park, and bosses have applied to implement one at the Hewett to provide strong and effective governance.
'We have also supported both schools to appoint experienced leaders to make improvements,' added Mr Joyce. 'Ofsted has recognised that our interventions are having a positive impact but we share the view that both schools have a number of significant weaknesses and need to improve rapidly.
'Although the district was the most improved at GCSE this summer, standards overall in secondary education in Norwich have been too low for too long.
'We know that education leaders across the city are determined to address this and we have strong arrangements in place to challenge and support them.
'However, we need to work with our partners across the greater Norwich area to ensure students in the city get the education they deserve.'