Improvement needed but action plan ready

Dawn Morton,  headteacher of the Duke's Middle School in Alnwick.
Dawn Morton, headteacher of the Duke's Middle School in Alnwick.

A north Northumberland school, whose Ofsted inspection rated it as ‘requiring improvement’, has assured parents that standards haven’t declined.

The Ofsted inspection at the Duke’s Middle School in Alnwick was carried out on September 26 and 27, with the report released last week.

Dukes Middle School, Alnwick

Dukes Middle School, Alnwick

The overall rating is three – requires improvement, with achievement of pupils, quality of teaching and leadership and management all at this level, while behaviour and safety of pupils is rated good.

The report raises a number of concerns about why the school is not good including students’ achievement not rising quickly enough and leaders and managers not bringing around improvements rapidly enough.

However, the report does also mention the school’s strengths, which include the school being an ‘orderly community’, the behaviour of the students who are ‘very polite and courteous’ and the attendance, which has improved.

Headteacher Dawn Morton said: “The overall outcome produced the same grading as their previous inspection time – Grade 3. During the last inspection this grading was called satisfactory but under the new guidelines, from September 2012, this is now labelled as requires improvement. We would like to reassure parents that this does not mean that standards have declined. In fact, the inspectors recognised that we have made many improvements since our last inspection in May 2010 and they commented upon many strengths seen within the school.

“The weakness that prevented us from achieving an overall good grading was ‘achievement in Key Stage 3 reading’, which showed a decline on the previous year. This was an area that we were aware of and had already begun measures to resolve; however inspectors felt that it was too early for them to have yet proved their impact on progress.

“We were pleased that the inspectors recognised our high standards in behaviour and safety. Our pupils were extremely positive about their school and the inspectors agreed that they were given many and varied opportunities to engage. They also noted how much our pupils enjoyed their lessons.”

Mrs Morton also said that all parents and carers will have received a copy of the report as well as an action plan which is being put in place to address the concerns raised.