Pupils paying the price for ‘years of poor teaching’

    Following its second Ofsted inspection in three years the Temple Grove Academy in Sherwood has been told it ‘required improvement.’

    The primary school which is based in Friar’s Way, Tunbridge Wells, received the news last week after an Ofsted inspection in April.

    The inspectorate found that the school, which became an academy in 2013, needed to improve in three out of five areas: Teaching Quality, Pupils’ Outcomes and Effectiveness of Leadership.

    The school did, however, gain ‘good’ ratings for its Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare and Early Years provisions. It was also noted for its support for pupils with special needs.

    There are four Ofsted category ratings:  Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate. Temple Grove Academy is now the only school in Tunbridge Wells not to have a ‘good’ Ofsted rating.

    The school’s Head Teacher Sam Linton told the Times there was ‘nothing in the Ofsted report that was a surprise’.

    Ms Linton took over at the school three and half years ago and has been credited with turning it around and last year gaining its highest SATS results, primary school exams sat by Year 6.

    “When I arrived here it was a completely different place,” she said. “We’ve gone through such a journey and I have always made my high expectations for the quality of teaching and leadership clear to the staff.

    “We are incredibly proud of what we’re doing”

    “When I first started behaviour was awful. I’d come from a school in London so I was used to the barriers for learning but even with that experience I was taken aback by some of the issues we faced. So the first thing we had to focus on was behaviour for learning.”

    This included putting an emphasis on professional development in order to improve teachers’ subject knowledge ‘as they are passing that on to the children.’

    Ofsted’s main criticism was regarding poor literacy but Ms Linton said the academy, which has a total of 260 pupils, is still very much working to improve this subject area.

    “We were aware that writing was our development for this year so it wasn’t a surprise. We are incredibly proud of what we’re doing at the school and we know we’re not there yet.

    “We carry out regular monitoring sessions and now have two Assistant Heads leading our literacy programme across the school but the fact is a lot of the children are still facing the impact of years of poor teaching.

    “All of my teachers have to work incredibly hard for all of the children to make accelerated progress and catch up to where they should be.”

    She added that the fact two teachers left their classes mid-year hadn’t helped.

    “Unfortunately, as in all walks of life, there will be people who don’t want to be part of or can’t meet our high expectations so the teachers that have come in now are having to make up for previous teaching. And while we were able to show (Ofsted) that the children were making rapid progress, we couldn’t demonstrate that pupils had made consistent progress.

    “It’s frustrating because you see the work that the children are doing and their behaviour for learning. They come in now and they want to do well. They’ve got those aspirations,” Ms Linton said.

    This, she added, will be reflected in this year’s SATS results which she believes will be ‘better than last year.’

    “In our combined scores of reading, writing and maths we are looking at about a high score of 78/80% which considering the national average is 58% is pretty good.”

    As Temple Grove is an academy the school reports directly to the Department of Education which is ‘closely monitoring its progress’.