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Homewood School in Tenterden downgraded to 'requires improvement' by Ofsted

The county's largest secondary school has been judged as requiring improvement after a complaint triggered a visit by Ofsted.

Homewood School in Tenterden has been consistently rated as good but in the latest inspection the 2,025-pupil school was downgraded overall.

Homewood School principal, Jeremy Single
Homewood School principal, Jeremy Single

The education watchdog sent a five-strong team of inspectors to assess the mixed-ability secondary school last month with the report stating: "The inspection was carried out following a complaint made to Ofsted that raised "serious concerns".

Inspectors indicated that a safeguarding concern had been raised along with "whole-school issues", but ruled that safeguarding at Homewood was effective, following their two-day evaluation of the Ashford Road school, noting that: "Staff have positive relationships with pupils and know them well" and that "pupils feel safe in the school".

Homewood School in Tenterden. Picture:Paul Amos
Homewood School in Tenterden. Picture:Paul Amos

Homewood School has recently undergone a change of leadership as Jeremy Single replaced Sally Lees as principal at the start of the new term in September. Mrs Lees stepped up to become chief executive of the Tenterden Schools Trust that also incorporates Homewood's onsite nursery, together with Tenterden infant and junior schools and St Michaels primary school.

Mr Single expressed disappointment that Homewood's quality of education was judged as requiring improvement, which led to the drop in the school's overall rating, but added it was "extremely pleasing that Ofsted recognised the school as 'good' in four of the five key areas scrutinised and judged".

Sally Lees, chief executive of Tenterden Schools Trust
Sally Lees, chief executive of Tenterden Schools Trust

In the report, Homewood School retained its 'good' rating for behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, as well as sixth-form provision, but this was set against some concerns.

Leaders' commitment to ensuring that pupils achieve was noted, but inspectors judged "there have not been consistently high expectations for all", limiting the achievements of some pupils.

Homewood School has been downgraded
Homewood School has been downgraded

There was also criticism of curriculum-planning, which was considered poorly-sequenced in some subjects, affecting pupils' ability to retain knowledge and lowering potential GCSE scores in those areas, leading inspectors to conclude: "The school does not provide a consistently high-quality education."

But teachers were described as being aware of the weaknesses and generally possessing "strong subject expertise", while Mr Single was said to be bringing "greater urgency" to driving up standards.

A lack of planning in lessons for children with special needs affected ability to "achieve well across the curriculum", although pastoral care was good.

Mr Single said work was under way to improve the organisation of the curriculum and strengthen special educational needs teaching.

Pupils' good behaviour and the calm atmosphere of lessons was praised by inspectors and bullying was described as "rare" at Homewood, despite the concerns of some pupils, while attendance had also improved due to the hard work of staff.

Homewood School principal Mr Single thanked parents and carers for their positive feedback via the Ofsted Parent View. He said he was "particularly pleased with the very positive percentages for student happiness, student safety and for parental recommendations of the school to others".

He added: "As the new principal, I have already been working very closely with Mrs Lees as the CEO of the Trust, Mrs [Gillian]Guthrie as the chair of governors, my leadership team, and indeed with all members of the teaching and associate staff, to ensure a continued journey of improvement and success for the school. This now includes a very driven and specific focus on ensuring that we do not hold a 'requires improvement' judgment for long.

"Working together, we will continue to reflect honestly, evaluate constructively and move forward with confidence."

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