EDUCATION chiefs have placed a Rossendale school in special measures after a damning inspection found inadequate teaching and poor governance.
Fearns Community Sports College, in Stacksteads, was found to be falling short by lead Ofsted inspector Charles Lowry after a two-day visit in April and May.
The school’s headteacher, Nigel Dawson, said he accepted the watchdog’s findings, and said staff were already working on an action plan to address problems.
The report, published yesterday, labelled the quality of English and maths teaching as ‘not good enough’, and said senior leaders had been ‘unsuccessful in improving the quality of teaching’.
The Fearns Moss school, which has 504 pupils, was rated satisfactory by Ofsted after three previous inspections in June 2012, October 2008, and November 2005.
In his report, Mr Lowry, one of three inspectors to observe 21 part-lessons, said: “Achievement is inadequate. The number of students leaving the college at the end of Key Stage 4 with at least five high-grade GCSEs, including English and mathematics, has been significantly below average for the past three years.
“Senior leaders and governors have been unsuccessful in improving the quality of teaching and raising achievement since the previous inspection. Their evaluation of how well the college is doing is too generous.
“Over time, performance management has not been rigorous enough to improve the quality of teaching.”
He also called the school’s policy of entering youngsters early for GCSE mathematics ‘a key factor in students’ underachievement’ in the subject.
Regarding pupils’ behaviour, Mr Lowry said: “Too many lessons are interrupted by a minority of students who engage in low-level disruptive behaviour.”
Last month, the Lancashire Telegraph reported how Steven Nuttall, a teacher at the school, allegedly posted messages on Facebook to say he would ‘enjoy dishing out payback’ to pupils who had misbehaved during the Ofsted visit.
Mr Dawson, who served as the school’s deputy head for four years before taking on the top job in September 2010, said he wanted to make improvements ‘across-the-board’.
He said: “We’re very disappointed to be in special measures but, to some extent, we were prepared for this. We knew last year’s results weren’t good enough, so we’ve taken action, and though this year’s results will be much better – our second-highest ever, we believe – the inspectors couldn’t take them into account at this stage.
“We’ve welcomed the inspectors’ suggestions and have built them in to the action plan we’re already working hard on.”
The report did, however, praise ‘consistently good quality teaching, learning and achievement in science, religious studies, and modern foreign languages’, and said most parents were satisfied their children were making good progress. Mr Dawson added: “I’m pleased the inspectors noted many positive aspects to school life, including some excellent curriculum areas, good support for students with special needs, and good care for our vulnerable students.”
The school will be monitored regularly by Ofsted.