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Kenton School still 'Requires Improvement' following financial turmoil, Ofsted says; The academy, which is the biggest in Newcastle, says it's confident it is now on the road to a better Ofsted grade after last year's budget challenges.

Byline: Hannah Graham

'Major financial challenges' left Newcastle's largest school struggling to turn performance around.

Ofsted inspectors have hit Kenton School with its second 'Requires Improvement' grade since it became an academy in 2012.

Behaviour, attendance and sometime "inconsistent" teaching still needed to get better, inspectors said. Some students didn't behave "appropriately" in school, while "bullying and name calling" still needed to be stamped out.

In January last year, teachers at the 1,779-pupil secondaryissued a vote of no-confidence, as the academy trust which oversees the school, as well as Studio West, faced a [pounds sterling]356,000 budget deficit and was forced to cut 43 jobs.

And in a report published on Monday, inspectors acknowledged money worries had delayed the improvements they asked leaders to make at Kenton in 2016.

'Vote of no confidence' as Kenton School's academy trust to lose 43 staff amid financial turmoil

They said: "Since the last inspection, school leaders and those responsible for governance have needed to address major financial challenges. The impact of these challenges has been felt throughout the school community. During the first year since the previous inspection, a sizeable proportion of leaders' time was taken up dealing with these pressures.

"At that point, this stopped them from being able to fully focus on improving the quality of provision at school."

But they said that following an "overhaul", governors and trustees now bring "helpful and relevant experience" and have helped shape a plan to improve the academy.

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Most pupils were "polite, respectful and well behaved", inspectors said, but overall behaviour wasn't good enough, with "too many" students showing "a lack of respect for each other, for adults and for their school".

Although 16-19 study programmes were described as 'Good', and the schools special educational needs and disabilities provision was praised, progress was below the national average in English, maths and science over the last two years. And while some "strong" teaching was seen, this was too "inconsistent", with some teachers failing to challenge pupils enough.

Principal Sarah Holmes-Carne said: "We are the largest school in the city, attracting almost 1,800 pupils from a wide variety of backgrounds and with a significant proportion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"This presents many challenges but we are pleased that Ofsted recognised our 'passion for inclusion' and our determination to give children from the area 'another chance' at their education so they can move on to further study, training or employment once they leave us.

"Ofstedalso highlighted our strong support for pupils with special educational needs or disabilities and that we honoured our Kenton mission: 'All different, all equal'. The report identified the quality of our teaching in art and the impressive standards we set in this subject, which was encouraging, and I am delighted that our sixth form was rated 'Good'.

"However, we recognise we have much to do and consider the rating to be a fair reflection of the issues that Kenton has faced in the past 18 months. Undoubtedly, the financial pressures we have experienced have had an impact but I am confident that we are now in a stronger position to act on the report's recommendations."

The trust responsible for financial issues at the school appointed new leaders last year, with its plan to turn the trust's finances around approved by the Education and Skills Funding Agency. Now, Kenton leaders insist, the school is in a position to tackle teaching and behaviour.

Chair of governors Anne Malcolm said: "The school leadership and governors are totally committed to improving standards across the school and have a clear plan of how we will achieve this. The report today helps to highlights those areas that we know we have to build on as a school community.

"There were positives in the report which we want our staff and pupils to be encouraged by. The behaviour and respect that our pupils show to each other and to teachers is something we are proud of and also the standards of our Year 11 pupils were recognised as being stronger than the previous years."

Mrs Holmes-Carne added: "I am very proud of the staff and students at Kenton. Together with the commitment of our governors and the support of parents, guardians and families, we will make the improvements necessary to ensure all pupils achieve their best."

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Credit: Newcastle Chronicle

Kenton School in Newcastle Upon Tyne

Credit: Newcastle Chronicle

Kenton School head teacher Sarah Holmes-Carne

Credit: Newcastle Chronicle

Kenton School in Newcastle
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Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 6, 2019
Words:786
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