Houghton Regis Academy getting back on track say Ofsted inspectors

The school had been found to be inadequate

By Lynn Hughes
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 11:49 am
Updated Friday, 28th January 2022, 1:02 am

A Houghton Regis school slammed as 'inadequate' is turning itself around, an Ofsted monitoring inspection has found.

Houghton Regis Academy, which will close in July this year as part of a planned change for a new secondary school in the area, was first said to be inadequate in January 2019 and has been the subject of five monitoring visits by inspectors since then.

Ofsted inspector Paul Wilson told interim headteacher Samantha Bowen: "Leaders and those responsible for governance are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures. The trust’s statement of action is fit for purpose The school’s improvement plan is fit for purpose."

Houghton Regis Academy - Google

The 500 place school now has only 111 pupils and many of the non teaching staff were made redundant as part of the restructuring of the school prior to closure. Most of the senior leadership team have also left following the June monitoring visit.

The Greenwood Academies Trust which runs the school, has now appointed a senior education adviser, who works with the new leadership team.

Mr Wilson said: "Much-needed improvements in teaching and curriculum design are now evident. Trust leaders have acted to address the lack of ambition identified at the previous monitoring inspection. Trust and school leaders are united in wanting to provide a much better quality of education for pupils in their remaining time at the school. They have worked with the NLE to provide improved resources, such as IT equipment and higher quality texts, which are being used to support pupils’ learning.

"Pupils commented positively on how teachers are now helping them to remember important knowledge through ‘fun quizzes’ and regularly revisiting key concepts. Pupils also say that teachers are trying to help them catch up with learning missed due to COVID-19 and previously weak teaching.

"A specialist leader of education is providing support to improve further the quality of teaching and learning in the subject. Pupils with SEND, while having improved provision, are not experiencing a good quality of education. This is particularly the case for pupils who are not in receipt of an education, health and care plan. Support from a special needs coordinator (SENCo) from a local primary school has continued.

"Leaders have secured further improvements in pupils’ behaviour. Pupils said that they felt behaviour was much improved and that they could now learn in lessons. There are fewer incidents of disruptive behaviour that require pupils to be removed from lessons."

He continued: "The trust has strengthened its oversight of the school. Those providing support to leaders are being held more closely to account. Trustees and trust leaders now have a more accurate view of the quality of education and pupils’ behaviour. They know what needs to improve and what actions they need to take. Leaders’ school improvement plan accurately identifies priorities for improvement.

"Teaching staff are committed to helping pupils complete their education at the school. Those teachers who have worked with trust staff feel that this support has been beneficial to improving their teaching and the curriculum. However, other staff are unaware of the trust’s support.

"The local authority has informed school leaders that it can offer several days of support to the school. School and trust leaders should explore what the nature of this support would be and how it can be incorporated into their plans to improve the quality of provision and ensure that pupils are well prepared for transition to new schools in 2022/23."

A spokesperson for the Trust, said: “Providing a high-quality education is of the utmost importance to us, and we remain committed to ensuring pupils have access to the best possible education during the remainder of the Academy’s final year of operation. Ahead of the Academy’s planned closure in July 2022, we will continue to work closely with the Academy and the Department for Education, which has recognised and supported our commitment to our pupils throughout this time.

“We welcome Ofsted’s findings that we are taking effective action within the Academy. We will of course continue to uphold high expectations and work closely with pupils, parents, staff and the local community to ensure pupils are properly supported and any disruption minimised as outlined in the Academy’s transition plan.”

A new secondary school, Houstone School, which will offer places for 900 pupils as well as a 220-pupil sixth form, is expected to open in Houghton Regis on the Kingsland site in 2022. Read more here.