14/09/2023 - Permalink

News from our partners: Headteacher leads Meole Brace School in innovative and strong response to Ofsted report

Related topics: Children's services / Partner organisations

News from our partners Meole Brace School, Shrewsbury 

School leaders at Meole Brace School, Shrewsbury have made a strong and innovative response to a recent inspection of the school.

After the school was inspected on 10 May – 11 May 2023, the school contested some of Ofsted’s findings.

Alan Doust, headteacher, said:-

“It is not so much that we disagreed with some of the things they said, it is more that we think Ofsted failed to balance the things they found out in a proportionate way, or to take a wide enough sample and perspective.”

Inspectors told the school that they found concerns in an area of the behaviour and attitudes criteria. This meant that, in accordance with Ofsted’s rules, the school has been categorised as having serious weaknesses.

Liz Malpass, chair of governors, said:-

“The school has been in dispute with Ofsted since the inspection, because, like many schools, we are concerned about how heavily they have relied on a smaller sample of our school community, and we think there are inconsistencies with other inspections.”

Whilst the school does not agree with Ofsted’s judgment, they have nonetheless undertaken a robust and immediate response, which sees the school use innovative and noteworthy approaches.

Alan Doust said:-

“We take the view that, even if Ofsted have in our view made a disproportionate and unfair overall judgment, they are still very important matters for us to address.

“When we spoke to inspectors, the issues raised by them, that stand out for us,  were to do with some female students reporting prejudiced or discriminatory behaviour from some of their peers, which they had not reported to school staff. We know these issues are a serious problem in society and one that we know all schools are working hard to address. We take it very seriously too, and have been responding very carefully to this issue.”

In response, the school has established an ally system so that staff and students who have had specific training will be able to respond professionally and effectively to any discrimination or prejudiced behaviours.

This operates through a new group that has been set up called the Equality and Diversity steering group.  This is a group made up of over 30 students and staff, who advise senior leaders on future policy, and ensure that the voice of the school community is fully known and acted upon. The school has also developed its own app and reporting systems so that any issues can be reported straight into school leaders, and therefore be picked up immediately using the latest technology.

Nick Hooper, a Director of TrustEd Central Shropshire Academy Trust, said:-

“The school has shown itself to be both strong and professional at this point in time. We have been hugely impressed by the determination and effectiveness of the school in responding to the issues raised, and we see them using impressive and carefully designed strategies to fit the school’s specific needs.”

Sarah Godden, the CEO, of the TrustED Central Shropshire Academy Trust, who is herself an Ofsted inspector said:-

“We are very disappointed by Ofsted on this occasion. We are aware of recent media coverage about Ofsted including other schools who have raised complaints to them, and we welcome their current review of their complaints process. We have been working closely with Meole Brace School since they joined our trust last year, and we have been supporting them, as with all of our schools, on their school improvement journey.

“We have found leaders to be determined and successful in their improvement work, and also staff to be dedicated and professional in making changes. We will of course be working closely with the school over the next period, and we feel very confident that the school will respond successfully and rapidly to this report, under the secure and determined leadership of Alan Doust and his team.”