A secondary school has been criticised by Ofsted for “gaming” its exam results by entering all pupils into two vocational courses when this was not in their “educational best interest".
Ofsted has placed Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy, in Runcorn, Cheshire, into special measures after rating the school as "inadequate".
Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT), which says it took on the school this month, was already having to deal with the aftermath of the inspection into Ormiston Denes Academy, in Lowestoft, Suffolk, which was downgraded to "inadequate" after being found to have off-rolled pupils.
Ormiston Bolingbroke was previously in a single-academy trust, Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy Trust. But that trust's most recent published accounts for 2017-18 describe Ormiston Academies Trust as being the sponsor of the school.
The inspection report into Ormiston Bolingbroke says: “In recent years, leaders have attempted to systematically ‘game’ examination results by entering all pupils in key stage 4 for two vocational courses.
Under fire from Ofsted
"This was not done in pupils’ educational best interest. It was done primarily for the school’s benefit because it artificially inflated the school’s overall progress score and partially concealed how poorly pupils had achieved in English, mathematics and science.”
This report says that this practice has now stopped. However, it says pupils currently in Years 10 and 11 are still studying for these qualifications because of decisions taken by leaders in the past.
The inspection report says that an interim principal is providing much-needed stability and is addressing concerns about staff wellbeing and pupils’ behaviour.
However, it says that, despite this, leaders and managers are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school.
A spokesperson for Ormiston Academies Trust said: " This Ofsted inspection was conducted when the school was sponsored by a previous academy trust. It transferred to us on Saturday.
"A major factor in our wish for the school to join our trust was so that we could drive real improvement there – this rating falls well below the high standards we uphold and that students deserve.
“We are already working hard to make improvements, as set out in the Ofsted report. This includes the appointment of a new principal, who will start after Easter, joining the school from an existing 'outstanding'-rated Ormiston academy, and builds on the work started by a new interim principal and new governing body appointed last term.
“We have already introduced robust systems to constantly monitor and evaluate actions, and inspectors recognised that the new governors are providing challenge and the new interim principal is addressing concerns."