THE Hereford Academy has been placed in special measures as pupils continue to struggle with English and Maths at the South Wye school.
Under new criteria the two subjects are given a heavy weighting, and while the Academy continues to makes progress in both, that progress was deemed insufficient.
Principal John Sheppard said the school was not hiding from the situation – plans are already in place to recruit a new head of maths – but said that improvements in other areas show the Academy is still moving forward.
The cultural shift that began with a new building is now evident throughout it; the report itself noted that “all forms of bullying are rare” and that students’ “spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding is well developed”.
That, to some extent, is why the "inadequate" grading is so frustrating to the school’s leadership team.
“It means that the rest of the school doesn’t get the credit it deserves,” said Mr Sheppard.
“We are not complacent, we are facing up to this and the report mentions the changes that we put in place before the inspection, but we are on an upwards trend.”
Changes to the inspection process – with a much greater weight placed on the data than on the inspection itself – meant the Academy was only likely to achieve a 'Requires Improvement' grade at best.
Having taken over at the school in 2008, Mr Sheppard has worked at schools in special measures before.
And for the Academy, it will now mean working closely with an inspector until the school is ready to be re-assessed.
Among those areas that will come under scrutiny, English and Maths will head the list, with teaching having been described as “weak” and leaders and managers criticised for not driving improvements quickly enough.
In the report, lead inspector Michael Blakely said: “The proportion of students attaining five GCSE grades A* to C (including English and maths) has improved too slowly and remains stubbornly below levels seen nationally and in schools in similar circumstances.”
While the maths department will undergo a restructuring process, Mr Sheppard believes the English department is much closer to where it needs to be, and has brought in a former inspector to improve standards.
Like a number of Herefordshire schools who have recently undergone inspections, the success of students receiving ‘pupil premium’ funding was also a key factor.
And according to the November report, those students at the Academy achieve almost two thirds of a grade lower at GCSE than their classmates.
The Hereford Academy was graded a "good" school at its previous inspection in 2011.