Published: 06:00, 03 August 2020
A primary school has not been inspected by Ofsted since it was given the lowest possible grading three years ago - but its new bosses are confident they’ve turned things around.
Pilgrims’ Way in Canterbury was rated inadequate in 2017, with inspectors reporting how it had faced “considerable turbulence” following the intake of new pupils relocated to the former Howe Barracks site from a deprived London borough.
They found the school had serious failings in three key areas and was being hampered by a “relentless” turnover of staff.
It then closed and reopened under the stewardship of Veritas Multi-Academy Trust, having previously been part of the Village Academy Trust.
But it has not been revisited by the schools watchdog since, with an inspection planned for this year cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Veritas CEO Graham Chisnell told KentOnline: “As such, we are still awaiting our first inspection and have every confidence that when they resume, the school is in a strong position to be graded favourably.
“Our governors are diligent in holding our school leaders to account and make regular visits to monitor the quality of provision in place for our pupils.
“The new head teacher, Anne-Marie Middleton, has built a strong leadership team that ensures the standards are rising.
“As a result, over the two years since being in post, attainment for pupils has risen in reading, writing and mathematics across the school.
“We are particularly proud of the rising attainment for our pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds who are now achieving much higher outcomes than in previous years.”
Mr Chisnell, who is also a lead inspector for Ofsted, says that assessments carried out by the school suggest it “is at least good” – two grades higher than its rating three years ago.
The 2017 report noted that tutors’ efforts to support new pupils meant that other areas did not receive the necessary attention, and, as a result, teaching standards had declined.
"Over the two years since being in post, attainment for pupils has risen in reading, writing and mathematics across the school..."
It added that the “regular arrival of new pupils” meant that teachers had to repeat parts of the syllabus in class, which slowed the rest of the children’s learning and led to “boredom”.
The Ofsted report rated leadership and management, quality of teaching and learning, and pupil outcomes as “inadequate”; while personal development and behaviour, and early years provision were both adjudged to require improvement.
Mr Chisnell continued: “We welcome and educate all in our culturally diverse school, bringing a richness to the curriculum that is taught to our children, building a sense of pride in our local culture and embracing a global culture with equal poise.
“Our teachers are highly skilled in supporting all pupils, this includes those whose first language is not English.
“Pilgrims’ Way is a great school providing an enriching curriculum for its pupils in the heart of the city.”
A spokesman for Ofsted said: “As Pilgrims’ Way closed and became a member of a multi-academy trust, it is considered a new school.
“New schools are typically inspected within three years of their opening, usually in the third year.
“Due to lockdown, Ofsted has suspended its routine inspection activity, and as such, some schools that may have been due an inspection cannot be inspected until routine activity begins again.”