Eskdale School told to improve by inspectors

A Whitby school has been given notice to improve by Ofsted inspectors who say achievement of pupils and leadership and management are not good enough.

Eskdale School, which hit the headlines recently after announcing controversial plans to become an Academy and raise the leaving age from 14 to 16, will be re-inspected in two years by education bosses.

The findings will come as a blow to the school which was rated ‘outstanding’ at its last inspection in June 2010. It is now grade 3 “Requires improvement”.

It may also affect the school’s chances of obtaining academy status or its desire to become an 11-16 school.

The Department for Education says: “A school can convert on its own if it is performing well, with the support of a sponsor, or as part of a group of schools (an academy chain).”

This means that if Eskdale were to become part of an academy chain, the school and the governors would have less freedom.

During December’s inspection it was noted that the number of pupils making the expected progress in English was lower than anticipated, teachers don’t plan challenging enough work for the more-able students and they are not given enough opportunity to learn for themselves.

Leadership and management also came under fire from Ofsted inspectors.

They said use of school performance and data was “inconsistent, and sometimes inaccurate” and monitoring of teaching wasn’t rigorous enough. Concern was also raised over the effectiveness of the governing body, which inspectors have ordered “needs improvement”. The report says: “They do not always do enough to challenge leaders about the progress of key groups...likewise, they do not know enough about the difference that strategies aimed at improving the achievement of those supported by the pupil premium are having.”

Inspectors added Eskdale was a caring school, the curriculum and wider opportunities help students develop new interests and skills, behaviour is good and students are polite.

County Coun Arthur Barker said: “Eskdale is already pressing ahead with improvements and we are confident the school can put the actions required in place swiftly.

“Eskdale’s leadership is ambitious for the school and the local authority has worked in partnership with staff and governors to identify the school’s most important areas for development.