Dorset school told to improve or have funding withdrawn

A Dorset multi academy trust has been warned that one of its schools will have its funding agreement terminated if it does not improve on a damning Ofsted inspection.

Lisa Mannall, the regional schools commissioner for the south-west, has written to the Twynham Learning multi-academy trust, after The Grange School in Christchurch was rated ‘inadequate’ with serious weaknesses in April.

A secondary, it is one of six schools run by the chain, which was established in 2011.  The MAT’s other secondary school, Twynham School, is rated ‘outstanding’, while two of its primaries are ‘good’, one is ‘outstanding’, and one has yet to be graded.

Ofsted raised concerns about a issues at The Grange including a lack of progress among pupils, especially those who are disadvantaged. There were also problems with poor attendance and behaviour, and a lack of breadth in the curriculum.

“I need to be satisfied that the academy can achieve rapid and sustained improvement,” Mannall wrote.

“If I am not satisfied this can be achieved I will consider issuing a termination warning notice in respect of the supplemental funding agreement for the academy.”

She asked the trust to submit a copy of its post-inspection action plan, information on the steps taken to improve pupils’ attendance, and evidence that the local governing body is providing “robust” challenge to the school’s leaders.

An education adviser will now work with the Twynham Learning Trust to help it improve in the ‘inadequate’ areas, and Mannall or a member of her team will observe a meeting of the trust’s board before the end of the academic year.

The trust must also commission an external review of the school’s use of pupil premium funding, as recommended by Ofsted.

Chair of the Twynham Learning Trust board Debbie Place said: “The [Ofsted] report highlights that not enough has been done to improve the standard of education for students at The Grange School.

“As a board we were too slow in identifying this, however significant work had already been done to rectify this, including the appointment of two senior leaders in January 2018.

“I am pleased that the inspectors recognise the impact of this support and we are confident that the necessary improvements can be made.”

The previous headteacher of The Grange, Jane Asplin-Locke, has left the school, and deputy head Pete Nealon is now co-leading alongside Liz Garman, school improvement adviser, with support from the leadership team at Twynham School.

The new CEO of Twynham Learning, Gareth Morris, was announced in May and will take up his post in September 2018.