Lowestoft school academy placed on special measures

The East Point Academy in Lowestoft

The East Point Academy in Lowestoft - Credit: Archant

Lowestoft's first academy was placed on special measures this week – prompting claims that its 850 students and their parents were being 'let down'.

East Point Academy, which opened its doors in September 2011 on the site on the former Kirkley High School, has been rated as inadequate by Ofsted for its achievement levels, quality of teaching, leadership and management and student behaviour.

It becomes the second high school in Lowestoft to be put on special measures after Denes High School was placed on the monitoring programme in November.

This week East Point Academy moved to reassure parents and students that it was tackling its problems head-on by calling in a hard-line executive headteacher, Dr Rory Fox, as a trouble-shooter and introducing Saturday detentions.

But Waveney MP Peter Aldous is today meeting its backer, the Academies Enterprise Trust, to raise his concerns. He has also written to the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, outlining his fears about the impact on students at the school.

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Mr Aldous said: 'I have expressed my concerns that many pupils and their families in south Lowestoft have not been receiving the high school education that they are entitled to expect. I have requested the meeting to ensure that all steps are taken to improve the school's performance as quickly as possible.

'A large number of pupils and parents are at present being let down and it is important that all steps are taken to turn round the school as soon as practically possible.'

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A summary of the Ofsted report, which follows a two-day inspection in March, says: 'Too many students under-achieve. There is not enough good teaching at the academy, more than half of it requires improvement.

'Lessons are regularly disrupted by a minority of students. Exclusions are high and attendance is below the national average. Not all students feel that staff will resolve incidents of bullying.

'Leaders and managers, including governors, do not have the capacity to secure essential improvements.' Two years ago, East Point became the first high school in Lowestoft to adopt academy status – meaning it has more freedom to set its own agenda than schools under the auspices of Suffolk County Council.

The academy says it has inherited problems and issues from Kirkley High School, which was placed on special measures in March 2009.

This week, Dr Rory Fox started at the Kirkley Run site as executive principal at the academy after being sent in by the Academies Enterprise Trust. He will be supporting its principal, Liz Redpath, and her staff as they implement a three-year improvement plan for the school, which has already seen GCSE exam results improve dramatically.

Yesterday Dr Fox, who sent home 150 pupils at his former academy school in Basildon for wearing the wrong uniform, pledged to get East Point out of special measures by this time next year.

As part of a far-reaching improvement plan, the academy is employing eight extra teachers, bringing its staff up to 70, and giving existing teachers extra training and support.

Saturday detentions will also be introduced for students who continually misbehave and a bullying logbook will be set up.

During his time at the Basildon Academies, a former secondary school, Mr Fox oversaw improved GCSE results last year and sent home 150 students over the course of the previous academic year there.

Dr Fox said: 'The fact I am here shows how the trust recognised and was well aware something needed to be done at East Point. We are now moving ahead with our three-year plan, which has already seen improved exam results in its first year.

'East Point is all about making our students ready for life and employment. If you are well educated, polite, well dressed and punctual you have a better chance in the workplace.'

Tomorrow night at 6pm, the academy is holding a meeting so parents can discuss its Ofsted report.

In a letter to parents and carers, Miss Redpath says: 'We must admit that we are very disappointed with the inspection process and judgments, but we must face up to the many challenges that Ofsted has set us as we strive to provide a quality of education for every learner at the earliest possible opportunity.

'There have been significant improvements on both exam performance and attendance since we began in September 2011.

'Unfortunately, this has not had a major influence on the inspectors' conclusions. One of the first actions to be taken was to strengthen the leadership and this has already been achieved through the appointment of an executive principal with considerable experience of securing rapid improvement in an academy.'

Last year, East Point saw 88pc of its students gain five or more A*-C GCSEs in any subject – a 44pc improvement on the last set of exams at Kirkley High School. The improved results saw it rise to 14th in the GCSE league table for Suffolk, which is 21 places higher than Kirkley High's last position.

In February, it was reported that Denes High School had been given the go-ahead to become an academy just three months after it was placed on special measures.

The last set of GCSE results for Suffolk mean the county is placed 142 of 151 local authorities in the national exams league table.

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