Oops_my_bad (31st January 2009)
BBC NEWS | Education | Ofsted intervenes at new academy
Ofsted intervenes at new academy
By Alison Smith and Angela Harrison
An academy which opened just five months ago has been put into "special measures" after parents complained to England's schools inspectors, Ofsted.
The head teacher and the chief executive of the Richard Rose Central Academy in Carlisle are to leave and new leaders are being brought in.
The academy was closed on Friday after pupils staged a protest. Parents complained children were not safe.
It is only the second time an academy has been failed by Ofsted.
Unity Academy in Middlesbrough was failed in 2005.
Academies - sometimes called "independent state schools" - are the flagship of the Westminster government's programme to improve England's schools.
Ofsted inspectors paid an emergency visit to the Richard Rose Central Academy after complaints from parents, who said they feared for their children's safety because of staff shortages.
Now inspectors have given the academy the lowest rating possible - "inadequate" - and put it into what is known as special measures.
Head teacher Mark Yearsley and chief executive of the Richard Rose Federation (which runs the school) Peter Noble are leaving.
Former head teacher and head of the government's Innovations Unit Mike Gibbons is being brought in to get the school back on track. He will be the federation's new chief executive, backed by Russell Wallace as interim director of the Central Academy.
Ofsted's report, just published, says 90% of parents who responded to their questionnaire said they had "serious concerns" about their child's welfare, safety and education.
Inspectors wrote that the school was failing to give pupils "an acceptable standard of education" and that those leading it were not "demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement".
"The academy's senior leaders underestimated the levels of challenge presented by the amalgamation of the two schools serving different communities", they said.
Brian Scowcroft of the Richard Rose Federation said: "We fully accept the Ofsted findings and I want to reassure students, parents, teachers and the local community that we are already addressing the issues they have raised and they are starting to have an impact.
"Our top priority is to ensure high standards of teaching and learning for all our students and that necessary support is provided for staff and parents to meet this goal."
'Not much learning'
Parents of children at the Richard Rose Central Academy in Carlisle learned the news from Ofsted inspectors this evening.
Students' complaints about lack of teachers and poor teaching gathered pace on the internet last week.
Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Carol Thompson, who has three children at the school, said the main problem was a shortage of teaching staff.
She said her children had been worried about going to school since she voiced concerns about it to the media.
She accompanies her son Reeve, 11, into school every day. Fifteen-year-old Hannah often refuses to go, she says, because she feels intimidated.
"I'm annoyed," Carol told BBC News.
"The children are being taught in temporary classrooms with no heating and no toilets.
"A lot of the good teachers have left, and there are too many supply teachers.
"People have had enough of not being listened to."
Outside the academy earlier on Wednesday, 11-year-old Nicole was dropped off by her mother, but seemed in no hurry to get to lessons.
She told us there was "not much learning going on".
"It's difficult to get much work done when there's supply", she said. "People just mess around."
Schools minister Jim Knight visited the academy last week, and pledged to do all he could to turn the school around, saying the school's problems had not appeared overnight.
Teaching unions say this academy was rushed through before it was ready.
The Richard Rose Central Academy was formed from a merger between two local schools - St Aidan's and North Cumbria Technology College.
But it's currently housed on the college's site. With the aid of many temporary classrooms, two schools have been merged into one.
The brand new building - the trademark of so many academies - has yet to get planning permission.
Parents claimed rival gangs from the two former schools now pass each other in the same corridors.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said many of the academy's problems stemmed from the fact that it was "inappropriately fast-tracked".
The government wants to have 200 academies open by 2010, but denies any have been rushed through.
Many of the students here seem passionate about wanting this academy to do better than the two schools which merged to form it.
Ryan Mills, 14, saw his face splashed across a local newspaper last week after his Bebo page called for pupils to make a stand against what they said was the poor standard of education.
Now he's urging them to "stick together and help make Richard Rose a better school".
This is only the second time that Ofsted has carried out a school inspection after parental complaints.
The first school to be inspected in this way was eventually given a "satisfactory" rating.
Ofsted expects parents to take their grievances to the school in the first instance, and it does not investigate complaints relating to individual students.
Peter Noble, who was until Wednesday the chief executive of the Richard Rose Federation which runs the school, had previously defended teaching at the academy.
He said the academy had "made a good start", but had problems which could not be fixed overnight.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the school now needed to look to the future.
She said: "There isn't a magic wand to solve its problems. Whoever takes over will need a huge amount of support to turn the school around.
"We firmly believe the academy experiment has failed in Carlisle and this school should now be reinstated under the control of the local authority, which has the knowledge and expertise to run schools."
Oops_my_bad (31st January 2009)
Lets just say - never believe anything written about schools written by Ofsted inspectors or reported on by the news media.
You sound as if you are party to some additional information?!
"Russell Wallace as interim director of the Central Academy"
He was at my place for a year as a Super Head and he turned the place around.
I shall say nothing as to not incriminate myself about the future of my current employees. We are looking to become an academy and it's been interesting
*interesting - read *
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