Louth school in '˜special measures' after damning Ofsted report

Monks' Dyke Tennyson College (MDTC) has suffered a major blow after being placed in special measures by Ofsted.

Monks' Dyke Tennyson College. EMN-150104-150631001

Ofsted’s report, which is due to be published this month, follows an inspection in September - and the school has been deemed ‘inadequate’ in all areas.

Interim headteacher Matt Percival took on the role just a few days before the Ofsted inspection, in the absence of Mike Eyre who is currently recovering from illness.

Mr Percival said that everybody associated with the school was naturally ‘disappointed’ by Ofsted’s findings.

He said: “The inspectors merely confirmed the college’s own evaluation of its strengths and areas for improvement which was carried out at the beginning of the new school year. There certainly were no surprises.”

Referring to the closure of the college’s Mablethorpe campus in the summer, Mr Percival continued: “Any school that has to navigate through the closure of a local campus and then merge provision onto a single site will face difficulties.

“The enormity of this task, the capacity required to manage the process and the time needed to complete this undertaking cannot be overestimated and, as with many schools, it can prove a distraction to the core purpose of delivering the very best life chances for every pupil.”

The school will now cease to be maintained by Lincolnshire County Council, and will instead become a ‘sponsored academy’.

The Secretary of State has deemed that the school will be sponsored by King Edward VI Education Trust, a collaborative group including King Edward VI Grammar School (KEVIGS) - which has been providing support to MDTC for the past year.

Mr Percival said: “The requirement for MDTC to now become a sponsored academy is no different to the situation that thousands of schools across the country have faced as a result of government policy.

“In a short time I have come to care deeply for our pupils, a committed staff and the wider Louth community, all of whom deserve a school that delivers high quality outcomes.

“It is on this basis that I sincerely hope a sponsored solution will be able to secure these for many years to come.”

However, County Councillor Sarah Dodds (Louth North) has aired her scepticism, and noted that the external support provided by KEVIGS received some criticism in Ofsted’s report.

The report stated that this external support had “not ensured that leaders and governors can judge the school’s effectiveness accurately and then plan appropriately to deal with the significant under-performance found in all areas”.

Quoting Ofsted’s above comment in a blog posted online earlier this week, Coun Dodds wrote: “Worryingly, the evidence in the Ofsted report directly contradicts the decision made by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) and the Secretary of State 
about the academy sponsor.”Coun Dodds went on to question what evidence was considered by the RSC and the Secretary of State in their decision-making, and added that county councillors were given no real opportunity to scrutinise this process.

Mr James Lascelles, head teacher at KEVIGS and the CEO of King Edward VI Education Trust, said that this was an “exciting time” for the Trust and for collaboration in Louth, adding that they had worked with MDTC during an “incredibly difficult” year’.

“The overwhelming focus of our work has been to support the head teacher, and the business manager with the task of restructuring the school and its finances.

“Ofsted’s report noted that in this area, work has been ‘achieved successfully’ and has laid solid foundations for the future growth of MDTC.”

Mr Lascelles added that Ofsted was reporting on “a school that no longer exists” as it focused on the past three years of the life of the school.

He added that Ofsted had ‘refused’ to separate results from the two campuses, but that analysis of the Louth site - where the Trust focused most of its work - showed vast improvements in GCSE results, and was above the government’s floor target for progress.

He concluded: “It is because we are confident about the future for Monks’ Dyke, confident about the real story on the Louth site, and confident about the impact that real and unobstructed collaborative working can have that we are genuinely excited about the future.

“Not just for Monks’ Dyke, but more importantly for the future of secondary education in Louth.”