Senior appointment will help teaching standards, says Ofsted

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An executive headteacher has been appointed at a secondary school which Ofsted said requires improvement.

Kenny Fitzpatrick will join Thomas Bennett Community College in January and help its headteacher focus on teaching standards, said the inspectorate.

He will work with headteacher Pauline Montalto and oversee the academy’s plans to improve.

Ofsted visited the school in Tilgate on December 1 after it was rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ in October.

In a letter to Mrs Montalto, inspector Simon Hughes said: “The executive headteacher has a realistic view of the academy and what needs to improve quickly.

“He will work with you from January onwards, to ensure that the pace of improvement increases. The full-time extra senior leader will enable you to concentrate more intently on driving improvements to teaching.”

The school was rated ‘Good’ before it was taken over by The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) in 2012.

A number of teachers have resigned following the inspection and TKAT has commissioned a review of governance which is due to be carried out this month.

Inspector Simon Hughes said senior leaders, governors and TKAT were taking “effective action” in response to the inspection.

He said: “Middle leaders are beginning to take more responsibility for students’ progress in their subjects.

“There remains, however, a significant minority of teaching which is less effective.”

The academy was asked to improve its IT to support more learning more effectively and clarify senior leadership roles and its finances for teacher training to improve standards.

A TKAT spokesman said: “Staff morale, as noted by the Ofsted inspection, has improved markedly and staff are working tirelessly to support the progress of all our students. We are confident that by the next Ofsted inspection the school will have seen continued accelerated progress.”

The academy was inspected weeks after its previous headteacher Ben Smith’s shock exit to “pursue other opportunities”.

Ofsted said significant changes to senior leadership and middle leaders’ failure to steer departments over the last school year contributed to the fall in its GCSE results.

Teaching lacked consistency and inspectors added: “The sixth form requires improvement because progress and teaching are too variable between subjects.

“When teachers over-predicted GCSE results, particularly in mathematics, students did not always get the extra support they needed quickly.”