The new headteacher of a North Devon secondary school has won the strong support of independent inspectors for the improvements he is making to students’ education.
Graham Hill took over as head of Pilton Community College at the start of the academic year after it had previously been judged as requiring improvements by Ofsted.
Five inspectors returned to Pilton for two days last month and say the school still needs to improve.
But – in a new report – they pay tribute to the work that Mr Hill has done and say it is already having an impact on teaching and learning.
“The new headteacher is acutely aware that pupils should be making better progress,”
says lead inspector Richard Steward.
“He is taking decisive action to raise standards. He is determined to improve the quality of education and raise pupils’ achievement.
“(He) has the strong support of parents, staff, pupils and governors and is already having a positive impact on the school’s work.
“Senior leaders have comprehensive and coherent plans to bring about improvements.
“Recent changes, including the appointment of (the) new head and the restructuring of the senior leadership team, have generated strong capacity for improvement.
“Appropriate systems and staffing are now in place to accelerate the pace of improvement,”
says Mr Steward.
But he says the changes have not yet had enough time to have a significant impact on standards.
Mr Steward praised the school governors and the Ventrus Trust which oversees Pilton.
“Leaders of the trust and members of the local governing board have taken difficult decisions in order to improve leadership at all levels,” he says. “As a result, confidence in the future of the school has been renewed.”
The five inspectors found that the curriculum at Pilton was broad and balanced and enhanced by a range of well-attended extra-curricular clubs and activities.
The work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare was good, they were safe and well cared for and they generally behaved well in lessons and around the school.
Students received good quality careers information, advice and guidance and were well informed about their options when they left school.
“Parents are supportive of the school’s work and many expressed their confidence in the new headteacher,”
says Mr Steward.
He says, to continue the improvements that have already been made, Pilton should closely monitor the effects of the measures that have been taken to improve teaching, use assessment information consistently to monitor progress more effectively and ensure all teachers have high expectations of what their pupils can achieve.
He says the new behaviour policy should also be applied consistently across the school.
Mr Hill said:
“I am pleased that the hard work undertaken by staff and particularly leaders at all levels within the school has been recognised.
“We understand that we are on a journey and are confident that we have the right people in place to embed work that has already begun.
“Our students will remain at the heart of the decisions made and we will continue to work in partnership with our parents.
“The support of Ventrus and the governing body has ensured that the progress that we have made is sustainable as we continue our journey of improvement.”
Pilton chair of governors, Mark Cartmell, said:
“I am very pleased that the inspectors have recognised the work that Graham, his senior leadership team and all the staff have done to bring about this improvement.
“We still have a lot of work to do but the governors and the leaders of the Ventrus Trust are confident we have the right team in place to maintain and build on the improvements that have already been made.
“I would also particularly like to thank our students and their families for their confidence and support.”