Despite the ‘Inadequate’ rating, the inspector said pupils behaved well around the school and found there’s a strong sense of community with many parents being supportive of the school.
‘The Cove’ – a specialist unit for pupils who have autistic spectrum disorder – was praised for providing well for a small number of pupils, who make strong progress in their learning and social skills.
Possibly facing merger with Ryde Academy
The troubled school is facing a merger with Ryde Academy from September 2018 under plans by AET.
Meanwhile, the Isle of Wight council is holding its own consultation on plans to retain the school in Sandown through as possible partnership with the Governing Body of The Bay CE Primary School.
Why the school is inadequate
However, Inspectors found a number of concerning issues:
- Ineffective governance arrangements, overseen by Academies Education Trust (AET), mean that pupils have been let down in the quality of education they receive for too long.
- Leaders have not ensured that the necessary improvements have been made to teaching, outcomes and behaviour since the last inspection. As a result, too many weaknesses remain.
- Many staff and some parents express frustration about the turbulence in leadership experienced over recent years. This has resulted in a loss of confidence in AET.
- There is insufficient proven capacity in leadership at all levels to bring about significant improvement.
- Pupils’ achievement has fallen since 2015. GCSE performance was below the government’s floor standard in 2016.
- Disadvantaged pupils and those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities make variable progress.
- Leaders have not made sure that pupils attend school regularly enough. Too many pupils are persistently absent.
- Inconsistency in the effectiveness of teaching means the pace of learning overall is too slow.
- Leaders do not sufficiently monitor and evaluate the impact of Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up funding for pupils who joined the school with attainment below national expectations.
- The most able pupils do not make strong progress because planned tasks do not challenge them sufficiently.
- Sixth-form students do not all fully access the 16 to 19 study programme. Leaders do not have high enough expectations of what sixth form students can achieve.
On news of the school being placed in Special Measures, a spokesperson from AET said,
“We are very aware of the issues in the Academy as well as its strengths, and fully take on board this report. We acknowledge, as we have already acknowledged elsewhere, that AET has not succeeded in driving forward the educational improvements at Sandown Bay that we would all wish to see, and we fully understand the problems and challenges standing in the way of pupils’ progress.
“Many of these challenges stem from the underlying context within which Sandown Bay is working, where it has a falling student roll due to over-supply of secondary school places on the Isle of Wight, and as a result income has been falling steeply year-on-year. The resulting annual cycle of redundancies has put enormous pressures on staff and made it very difficult for the school to provide the resources and the teaching it needs.
“Beyond these underlying issues, Ofsted highlights problems with governance and leadership. Here, AET had put in place a Governing Body to replace the previous Management Board, but this was found to be ineffective in monitoring and holding the school to account. In line with current Government advice, therefore, we replaced the Governing Body and reverted to a Management Board which has the professional experience and capability to scrutinise performance and to offer both challenge and support to the school’s leadership. The Management Board has already met, and will meet again before the end of term. Meanwhile with regards to leadership, following the resignation of the Principal and one Vice-Principal, a new and experienced leadership team is in place for September, and has already commenced work to take the school through the coming period of transition.
“Plans are in place to ensure Sandown Bay Academy is fully staffed for September and, with the support of the Trust, to ensure the school is successful in future HMI monitoring visits, and that all development areas identified in the report are addressed, in the interests of all the school’s pupils. This is the rationale and reasoning behind our proposals to amalgamate the Academy with its sister school, Ryde, where performance is improving and where there is a track record of leadership success and notable gains in the educational outcomes for pupils. This proposal is currently subject to consultation, and any decision on Sandown Bay’s future will be taken by Ministers. Whatever that decision may be, AET undertakes to ensure it provides the support needed by the school through any period of transition, and to act on the recommendations of the Ofsted report.”