Inspection of Harton Academy

Inspection dates: 1 and 2 March 2022

Judgement

The Quality of Education

Good

Behaviour and Attitudes

Good

Personal Development

Good

Sixth Form Provision

Good

Leadership and Management Requires improvement
Overall effectiveness Requires improvement

Dear Parent/Carer

Following Harton Academy’s inspection way back in early March, I am now in a position to share the final report with you. My apologies that it has taken this long to receive the report, but we have been through a process of factual accuracy checks, followed by a formal complaint about the judgements, process of the inspection and our perceived conduct of the inspectors.

As expected, Ofsted has not upheld all of our concerns and will be publishing the report on their website in due course. We may appeal against the outcome of our complaint, but I wanted parents, carers, staff and students to have the final report from Ofsted now.

As you can see, they have concluded that the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and sixth form provision are all ‘GOOD’. Whilst it is disappointing that these judgements have all dropped from ‘outstanding’ in the opinions of the inspectors, this is quite commonplace with the latest Ofsted framework. If anything, the standards across the board are higher than when we were judged as outstanding for almost 16 consecutive years.

The inspectors did recognise that leaders are compassionate and caring about the pupils in their charge, that leaders and staff share high expectations for pupils’ behaviour and academic achievements, that leaders have thought carefully about how to organise the curriculum and have mapped out what pupils should know and when, and how to best prepare pupils to succeed academically. They add that leaders have consistently high expectations for pupils’ behaviour.

They also acknowledge that a positive and respectful culture is evident in the day-to-day activity of the school, that pupils interact with each other maturely, that pupils are polite and many are positive about their experience of school. Very importantly, they recognised that pupils’ conduct in lessons and around school is impressive, that staff and pupils treat each other with courtesy and that staff forge positive relationships with pupils, and a respectful culture is evident around school.

They also recognised the wide range of extra-curricular opportunities on offer and how the pupils talk with enthusiasm about these opportunities, how pupils talk confidently about mental health and on-line safety, and that careers provision is a strength of the school.

Finally, although the inspectors state that “arrangements for safeguarding are effective”, they had a difference of opinion with school leaders about the record-keeping. This is essentially the area that we have been contesting, as safeguarding is a limiting judgement, which resulted in the requires improvement judgements for leadership and management, and overall effectiveness.

I am sure that you will agree the report does not read like a ‘requires improvement’ school and there are huge positives as outlined above. However, we believe that the process of the inspection and the conduct of the inspectors were nit-picking and punitive and we have raised that with the powers that be.

I have been at the school for almost 39 years and I firmly believe that the school is stronger than ever. We have been judged as outstanding several times in the past, featured in Ofsted’s national publication regarding outstanding schools, but clearly the bar has been raised and many schools are suffering as a consequence. We fundamentally disagree with the RI judgement and have enormous evidence in school to refute this judgement. The senior staff have observed in excess of 100 lessons since September 2021 and in our judgement, over 96% have been at least ‘good’, with almost 70% as ‘outstanding’. The Ofsted team conducted what are termed ‘deep dives’ in 6 subject areas, but, in our opinion, these amounted to ‘shallow paddles’, with some lesson observations lasting between 1 and 10 minutes only. It is perhaps quite revealing that the report contains scant reference to the quality of education and the marvellous teaching and learning taking place in the classrooms.

The focus of the inspection was dominated by the safeguarding agenda. I can assure parents that the staff take safeguarding incredibly seriously and always go the extra mile to ensure that students are kept safe. The reference to bullying is quite bizarre, in that they report the school does not respond to incidents of bullying where we don’t know about them!

We hope that when you read the full report, you will be equally puzzled by the approach seemingly taken by Ofsted and rest assured that Harton continues to be an amazing place to learn and to work.

In closing, we are very happy to invite parents and carers to the school for further information on the process and outcomes of the inspection, with an opportunity to answer any questions you may have.

This will take place on Monday July 4th at 6pm in our main hall. It would be useful to know approximate numbers who may wish to attend, so please e-mail headteacher@hartonacademy.co.uk if you are able to make it.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Sir Ken Gibson
Executive Head Teacher

Read full report here: “Inspection of  Harton Academy Report”.

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