GORSE academy downgraded after taking pupils off roll

Farnley Academy goes from 'outstanding' to 'requires improvement' after Ofsted questions pupils being moved from school roll

John Roberts

Ofsted have downgraded a GORSE Academies school after criticising the way pupils were taken off its roll.

A school run by the GORSE Academies Trust has been downgraded from "outstanding" to "requires improvement" by Ofsted after inspectors criticised the way in which some pupils were taken off roll.

Ofsted inspectors went into Farnley Academy after Leeds Council accused GORSE of off-rolling pupils from mainstream schools into the trust’s own alternative provision academy.

The report says some Farnley Academy, in Leeds, pupils were taken off its roll in Year 11 after attending the trust's own alternative provision. 

And inspectors report that leaders could not convincingly explain why taking them off roll was in the pupils' interest.

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However, the inspection report does not actually describe the school as having off-rolled pupils – despite this pupil movement appearing to meet Ofsted’s own definition of off-rolling.

GORSE said in a statement that the: "Ofsted report is clear that pupils at The Farnley Academy were not off-rolled."

However, the trust has today apologised for not being "sufficiently conscientious to ensure that our record-keeping and administration processes around how we support some of our most challenging pupils." 

Farnley Academy has been downgraded to "requires improvement" for its leadership and management – pupils' behaviour was also rated as "requires improvement" by the inspectorate.

Acccusations of off-rolling were made against GORSE last month after Tes uncovered an internal document from 2016 that showed staff discussing how taking low-achieving “anchor students” off a school roll could boost progress 8 scores.

The report also said removing pupils from a school roll would become simpler once GORSE opened its own AP school. 

Leeds Council claimed GORSE had followed through with this by off-rolling pupils into the alternative provision – The Stephen Longfellow Academy – for the past two years.

GORSE's chief executive Sir John Townsley has denied that this pupil movement is off-rolling.

Ofsted’s inspection report into Farnley Academy finds that some pupils from the school "are moved onto the roll of the trust’s alternative provision."

It adds: "Leaders could not convincingly explain why it was in each pupil’s best interests to move to the roll of the alternative provision, particularly during Year 11."

It also criticises leaders and governors for not keeping “a careful enough check to make sure that alternative provision is the best option for these pupils.”

Ofsted calls on them to ensure that alternative provision is only considered after all options to support pupils in mainstream education have been exhausted.

Inspectors add: “Leaders should ensure that appropriate records are maintained which show that the decision to place a pupil in alternative provision, or to move the pupil to the roll of the alternative provision, is made only when this is in the best interests of the pupil.”

The inspection report also raises concerns about some pupils how do not behave well spending too much time in "the isolation room".

It says that although leaders have high expectations of pupils’ behaviour, they do not ensure that pupils’ behaviour and attitudes are consistently good.

Ofsted found that a small number of pupils do not engage in their learning as positively as they should and there is more that could be done for some so that they are able to remain in the school.

It also notes that a small number of pupils are isolated from main lessons too often and that several parents have chosen to home educate their children.

However, the report praises the school for providing a good quality of education.  And it rates pupils' personal development as outstanding.

It says: “They do not shy away from expecting pupils to achieve as much as possible. Leaders have thought about what pupils should learn, when it would be best for them to learn it and why. Most pupils achieve well.”

It also says clear plans for all subjects outline what pupils should be taught and when. It says teaching supports pupils to build up their knowledge which helps them with their future learning.

A statement from GORSE Academies Trust said:  "Anyone who spends time at The Farnley Academy knows that it is also a brilliant school which has, for many years, achieved amazing things for its pupils and this community.

"Today’s Ofsted report highlights numerous positive aspects of the school, including that pupils’ personal development is 'outstanding', that the quality of education is 'good' and that pupils feel safe and well-cared for in school. We are very proud of these findings and many more.

“We also recognise that Ofsted says we have not been sufficiently conscientious to ensure that our record-keeping and administration processes around how we support some of our most challenging pupils have been of the standard both we and Ofsted expect.

"We got this wrong and we apologise. 

"We make a firm and clear commitment to ensuring that this area of our work is improved so that it matches the clear areas of excellence rightly identified by Ofsted in its report.

"We are clear that we always act in the best interests of pupils, and many of the pupils who transferred from Farnley joined The Stephen Longfellow Academy, which is today commended by Ofsted.”

The Stephen Longfellow Academy inspection report rates the school as being "good" in all inspection areas.

Despite this, this report also raises concerns about the way some pupils are taken off the roll of their original school and registered solely with the alternative provision.


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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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