Two months ago Ofsted carried out one of their routine inspections of Rye College and their report, just published, does not make particularly happy reading. The school is classed as “inadequate” with much of the blame lying with frequent changes of senior management – four headteachers in as many years – resulting in lack of direction for second tier management and teachers. It has been found elsewhere that lack of consistency in management is often a demotivating factor on the workforce and the consequent lack of strength in the teaching of some subjects together with high staff turnover – 20 teachers, including all senior management have left in the last year alone – is therefore not surprising. Poor record keeping both for students’ attainments and for reporting to the trustees, was also cited as a major criticism of day-to-day school management.
However, the report acknowledged that amidst the failures there were also some strengths. Pastoral care was good and the school was a safe place with pupil behaviour generally good. Although the teaching quality of some subjects was weak, that of English was strong. And perhaps most important, the Trustees – largely changed in the last two years and now under a new lead executive – are far better informed of what is going on in the school and have already initiated changes which will work to the school’s strengths and combat the areas where it has been weak.
With the disaster of the Studio School now in the past, the association with a larger and successful Academy Trust, the recent approval of funds to refurbish much of the school infrastructure and the determination of new trustees and senior management to turn the school round (see Rye News’ recent question and answer article with the lead executive, Andrew Ferguson), the future of Rye College and its students is looking brighter.
The full Ofsted report can be seen here and the Trustees have issued the following statement:
“Following inspection on May 22 and 23 2018, Ofsted has today published the final report for Rye College. The school is judged to have serious weaknesses after receiving an overall inadequate grade though inspectors found safeguarding to be effective.
Inspectors considered the performance of the college since the last inspection in July 2013 – five years ago – when it was graded as good. The report acknowledges the “significant turbulence in leadership over a number of years” as well as the belief that current leaders are “making the right changes for the benefit of pupils in the school”.
Barry Blakelock, Headteacher, said ‘whilst this report will undoubtedly cause concern for our families, it acknowledges the work already started to improve our college. It finds leaders and trustees have an accurate understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the school and show an absolute determination that pupils from all backgrounds should achieve their potential’.
Rye College is being supported by the Aquinas Trust with a view to joining the South-London based multi-academy trust later in the year. Parent meetings are planned for the autumn term to discuss the transfer of the school. Earlier this month, Rye Academy Trust and the Aquinas Trust announced capital funding of £4.1m had been jointly secured from government to make essential improvements to the infrastructure of the college.
Andrew Ferguson, Lead Executive for Rye Academy Trust, said ‘this report affirms our direction of travel. Trustees accept the findings of the inspection team and acknowledge what needs to be done to further improve. These actions are already built into our improvement planning and many are already underway. The college will be entering next year with a stable and expanded leadership team committed to making the necessary improvements’.”
Photos: Rye College