School told to improve by Ofsted

Head of school, Pauline Montalto
Head of school, Pauline Montalto

Thomas Bennett Community College has been told to improve by Ofsted.

The school, in Ashdown Drive, underwent a two-day inspection on November 30/December 1 and the findings were published on January 18. A team of inspectors, led by Hugh Betterton, found leadership and teaching skills had started to improve, attendance levels were rising and GCSE students were doing well when it came to languages.

But, with too many pupils underachieving, overall GCSE results being too low for the last three years, and expectations of the students judged not “consistently challenging enough”, they rated Thomas Bennett ‘requires improvement’.

Data published by the Department for Education on Thursday (January 19) showed only 38 per cent of GCSE students achieved grade C or better in English and maths, while the progress made by students was below the national average.

Mr Betterton said: “The period of considerable turbulence in staffing in the school was a major contributor to the below-average progress made by pupils in the last two years.”

While describing the quality of teaching as “too variable”, he acknowledged the “effective” support provided by The Kemnal Academy Trust – which runs the school – to turn things around. As a result, Mr Betterton said senior leaders had an accurate view of the school’s performance, and were now “sharply focused on the right areas for further development”.

Head of school, Pauline Montalto, said the aim of her and her team was to “continue to move the school forward”.

She added: “Schools are constantly self-evaluating and use this to inform their planning. It was therefore very pleasing that the Ofsted inspectors found our self-evaluation to be robust and the leadership of the school sharply focused on the right areas for further development:

“The inspection team recognised the challenges faced by many schools, including Thomas Bennett Community College at the current time.

“The improvements and positive developments made since the previous inspection were also acknowledged.

“The work being done in the area of personal development means that our students generally feel safe in the school, attend more and display positive attitudes.

“Our aim is to continue to move the school forward so that we ensure that the students have strong aspirations and gain skills, qualifications and experience that will enhance their life-chances, and keep them engaged in education.”

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