Cowes Enterprise College goes into Special Measures: Ofsted

Rumours of the contents of the report have been circulating for several weeks. Read the official report here.

Cowes Enterprise College

The long-awaited Ofsted report on Cowes Enterprise College has finally been released to the public today.

The College has been plagued with problems over the last year, the poor conditions at the current school, several delays to moving into the new building, two officers suspended over those delays, the Principal resigning after the Ofsted inspection and more.

As long-rumoured, Ofsted have deemed Cowes Enterprise College as a school that requires special measures.

  • The quality of teaching is too variable. Too much teaching is inadequate and too few lessons enable students to make good progress.
  • As a result, students do not make enough progress as they move through the school.
  • Examination results are not high enough given students’ abilities.
  • Many lessons do not challenge students.
  • Students are given work that is too easy or repeats things that they already know, understand or can do. Many lessons fail to interest students.
  • There are also weaknesses in the curriculum (the way in which the school organises the subjects that students study). For example, some students take GCSE examinations early and do not achieve their full potential.
  • The school’s leaders have not done enough to improve teaching and overall the school is not improving quickly enough. Leaders have too positive a view of the school’s current effectiveness and do not have an accurate enough understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.
  • The sixth form is also inadequate. A-level examination results are too low.

The full report is embedded below for your convenience.

The Ofsted report

Alan Wells on ‘Special Measures’ Cowes Enterprise Ofsted report

Thursday, 17th January, 2013 3:51pm



Filed under: Cowes, Education, Isle of Wight News, Ofsted reports, Top story

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34 Comments on "Cowes Enterprise College goes into Special Measures: Ofsted"

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It’s the kids at the school I feel sorry for. They really have been let down in this.

Charles T
I cannot believe that both the Trust and Governors believe this debacle is NOT their fault! Question(s): 1. Whose is it then? 2. Who was leading the College? 3. Who gave the then Principal a free rein? 4. What were the Trust & Governors doing for 2 years? Probably dreaming of coffee meetings in the lovely new build…Hmmm 5. Who else was supposed to check that the… Read more »
Mike G

The first thing that is says under section ‘The leadership and management’, are inadequate:

“The school’s overall improvement has been too slow. The Principal and other senior leaders have been distracted by the uncertainties of the building programme.”

Paul Armfield

It’s a real shame as there are some excellent teachers and staff there doing their very best despite an appallingly weak, distracted and sometimes counterproductive leadership. Both of my children attend and, on the whole, their experience does not reflect the severity of this report.

I totally agree, my son has had some excellent teaching and support during his first year in the 6th form. His teachers remain motivated despite working under these extreme pressures over the past 2 years. It’s time to stop finding who is to blame and get on with the job of building the college back up, allowing the students to be the best they can be. There… Read more »

I agree about the comment on Staff. James Stewart, the man given the poisoned chalice is a charismatic man of integrity and hugely popular amongst the students


Some people are going to have to resign twice, at this rate.

Charles T
Re: Mike G’s point How can the leadership and management be reported as inadequate and yet Mr Wells letter completely refutes this with his statement regarding the Trust and Governors? IMHO they [Trust/Govenors] ARE responsible for this and the new build debacle! BTW: what have the Local Authority been doing during all this? Perhaps looking for a scapegoat or did I see fresh sand being delivered to… Read more »
Josh Aitken-Dunkeld

I feel so embarrassed right now!

Charles T

I feel similar, but with two children at Cowes I’m wondering if I’ve let them down…it’s always the kids that suffer whilst us so called grown ups ‘cock it up’.
BTW isn’t the definition of insanity based upon doing the something exactly as before and expecting a different outcome?

Overall I think the report is very fair and I’m glad to see that the schools trust is being left to manage this school. The poor performance highlighted is by no means unique to this site and Inspections at Ryde, Sandown, Medina and Carisbrooke are likely to highlight very similar findings (based on last year’s GCSE performance). However, these factors are compounded at CEC by poor staff… Read more »

Jake, see Alan Wells’ letter:

“The actions already taken by the Governing Body give the opportunity to move the College towards Academy status”

It may well be that the “external improvement partner” will be in the form of a multi academy sponsor – step in AET or another?

I hope its not AET – I don’t see why a body running public schools should be making such large profits: 2009-10 turnover £ 84m, retained profit £ 44m 2010-11 turnover £ 128m, retained profit £ 64m The academies themselves are Not for Profit, but Accademies Enterprise Trust is patently not. Can’t argue that its not run efficiently, but if half the turnover is being retained as… Read more »
Yet again, external ‘consultants’ are being brought in to clear up the mess that someone else has made. How much is this going to cost and why should the school have to fund this when they have a governing body for this purpose??? Alan Wells should be thoroughly ashamed of himself and his failures. There is NO excuse for this. Who will be funding the consultants? And… Read more »
Morgan B.

When this was released on the website earlier today, everybody in my Class broke out in cheers. Shows how much the poor handling has effected our once ‘good’ opinions of this school.

Black Dog

Morgan B.’s

Do not forget or overlook Pupil Power!

Victor Meldrew

Is it NEVER going to end?
Cowes Enterprise College
Childrens Safeguarding
Riverside Centre
Schools results

When will this appaling shower get the message that they are incompetent and stop blaming the workers!

If they’re not responsile for the failures they cant be responsible for the successes!

Get rid of the “gang of three” and vote out the incompetents come May.

Charles T

Hey Victor, This about the kids and not a political opportunity. It’s clear that the LA is lacking, but we should focus on getting this dealt with; I’ve got children at this ‘college’ and yes I’d like to ‘get rid’ but that’s not going to get them the grades at GCSE or A Level…

Victor Meldrew
Charles T you are right, of course – it is about our kids and they have been badly let down, not just at CEC but at most of the ex-high schools and middle schools. But, I ask, where does the responsibility lie? If we dont get the strategy and governance right what hope do front line staff stand. Were I a teacher at CEC,I would be feeling… Read more »
Victor Meldrew

…sorry..meant to add… How encouraging it was to see the positive part of the report commented on the polteness and behaviour of the students…testament to the resiliance of youth.


Lets have an election ASAP – No confidence as not fit for purpose

Stewart Blackmore
In the light of this appalling Ofsted report, and after listening to the disgraceful attempts by Cllrs Cameron and (especially) Cousins at last night’s Full Council Meeting, they should both resign immediately in Cousins’s case as the responsible Cabinet member and, if they had any sort of a conscience on this issue, as Councillors. never mind waiting for May – do the honourable thing, and do it… Read more »
Noel Edge
Ofsted are only saying what we know already. The schools on the island are a disaster. The reorganisation will do little or nothing. The authorities haven’t got a clue what to do. Free schools, academies trusts blah…. The best teachers have left or retired, the remainder keep their heads down.Exams are a joke.What kind of schools do we want? What do we want in the curriculum? How… Read more »
wise words my friend but how do we rest the power away from these incompetents ? most people will just vote these idiots back in again ….. how depressing that will be for the islands future are they so far up there on backsides they cant see the truth ? if you ever meet these councillors they are arrogant and cant hear any other opinion but there… Read more »
I wish Mr Pickles would put this Tory Council int “Special Measures” so we could start giving hope some aspiration to this generation of Children and Young People who have been so woefully let down. It may also allow the Adult voters to have some confidence that we are allowed Democratic Debate in the Council Chamber not one that resembles a “Tory lead Politburo”!! Well done indeed… Read more »

Just possible that Ofsted are on their way already:

Full list of LEAs to be inspected is not yet released, but based on recent SATS & GCSE performance we can’t be far from bottom of the league.


Hope so, but unfortunately in Ofsted’s November data our secondary figure was at 100% good. (Only Christ the King had an inspection result).

Had they all been assessed then the real figure may have been 15% good. (~200 places out of ~1300 per year).

Black Dog

Regrettably Eric Pickles is all hot air and a complete waste of skin.

I find it incredible that most people on this thread blame everyone but themselves for the state of education on the Island. This hasn’t happened overnight or even within the time frame of the new CEC build. It has been like this for years, mediocre at best, irrelevant of who’s in charge. I didn’t hear people screeching this loudly 5 or 10 years ago. Teachers have had… Read more »
I do not believe it
I have never understood why the island’s schools continuously perform so very badly when compared against similar socio-economic areas of the country. You would think that, given the various attractions of living on the island, e.g. cheaper housing, schools would attract some of the best teachers in the country. Perhaps we already have the best teachers here but they are demoralised and hampered by weak and incompetent… Read more »
John B
At least the Principal had some integrity and resigned. Don’t see any sign of Governors taking any responsibility – Alan Wells as the Chair of Governors should resign. He’s clearly never had any real grasp on what is going on at the school. On October 16th he wrote to parents expressing his “delight” that kids would be moving into the new building on November 5th. Two weeks… Read more »
Fast 'n' Bulbous

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse – apparently the heating has now broken in the old school so everyone’s sat there freezing their what-not’s off. Roll on the parent’s meeting tomorrow…

Billy Builder

Don’t forget now, the new building has been sitting there ready for occupation since mid November

Billy Builder

I’v noticed a posting on County Press lamenting the loss of Island jobs. I hope Steve Beynon takes note as he seems intent on outsourcing Council job to other councils. I believe that he intends to outsource the jobs of the currently suspended staff, no doubt shortly to be sacked staff to Kent County Council