School not rated good since 2013 told it still needs to improve by education watchdog

A school that was last rated ‘good’ nine years ago has been told by the education watchdog that it still needs to do better.

St Anne’s CE Academy, in Middleton, remains classed as ‘requires improvement’ following a recent Ofsted inspection, despite officials noting significant progress in many areas.

It was first downgraded in 2015 and has been unable to regain its former rating over the course of two full inspections interspersed by monitoring visits.

READ MORE : Once ‘outstanding’ infant school ordered to improve by watchdog following first inspection since 2010

The Hollin Lane secondary school, which transferred to the Cranmer Education Trust last year, accepts it is on a ‘journey of improvement’, but says this is ‘now well under way’.

A new report – based on a full inspection in late 2021 – praises leadership and management at the school as well as pupils’ behaviour, attitude and personal development.

All these areas are classed as ‘good’.

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But as the quality of education is still in need of improvement, the overall rating remains unchanged.

Ofsted notes that ‘in some subjects, teachers deliver the curriculum to a high standard, with children ‘achieving well’ as a result.

Elsewhere, however, some pupils are said to ‘remain stuck’.

“In these subjects, some teachers do not check sufficiently well how pupils have learned the curriculum,” the report reads.

“Added to this, some teachers do not choose appropriate activities to remedy pupils’ missing knowledge. This hinders pupils’ achievement, including some pupils with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities).”

It adds that some older pupils are held back by poor reading habits – and not all teachers are equipped to support them enough.

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“Leaders should ensure that the reading curriculum is strengthened,” the report adds.

“Some teachers do not successfully identify or remedy pupils’ missing knowledge. This means that some pupils, including some with SEND, do not make the progress that leaders intend.”

Despite these findings, inspectors said the school was a ‘happy and safe’ place to learn, where pupils ‘receive a far better quality of education than they did in the past’.

Bullying was said to be ‘rare’ but dealt with ‘quickly and effectively’ where it arose. Safeguarding was also described as ‘effective’.


Parents’ reactions to the Ofsted report have been mixed.

While some are supportive of the school others are highly critical of the education their children receive at St Anne’s.

Bev Arrowsmith said her daughter wasn’t supported ‘to such a degree that her mental health took a massive tumble’.

She added: “She is now supported by Bury College and is currently being evaluated for autism, adhd, dyslexia and dyspraxia. She also has issues with her gender and even with food and has two dieticians (standard and sensory) and an allocated social worker.

“St Anne’s have failed my child and were completely biased, protecting themselves and had me and only me in the firing line as an inadequate parent.”

Steven Whittaker had similar concerns. “The communication about children’s independence needs looking at,” he said.

“I have an autistic child who needs some support in different areas and aspects of social and school life and every year we start from scratch, from ‘oh we didn’t know’, then ‘we will get help’.”

He adds that it takes until halfway through the year to get the ‘smallest of help’. But a meltdown leads to his child getting suspended and ‘everything stops’ before going back to ‘oh we didn’t know’.

And one mum, who asked not to be named, said the school had been ‘shocking, really bad’ for her autistic daughter.

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“There’s been a lack of support, really,” she said. “They just don’t listen to anything they say, they don’t take into account anything.”

While she accepts that the teaching is ‘coming up to standard a bit now’, she says at one point teachers were covering outside their subject area ‘left, right and centre’.

However she hopes her youngest daughter – now in the final year of primary school – will not go to St Anne’s.

“I’m praying she gets into Edgar Wood for high school,” she said. “Under no circumstances will I be sending her up there [St.Anne’s].”

Nadine Babinsky was another parent with few good things to say about the school.

“Since it became part of that Blue Coat scheme [Cranmer Education Trust] its gone shocking,” she said.

“Teachers have left, new teachers have joined, some who are brilliant others not so and who need to realize they’re the teachers not the parents. And communication needs to be better.”

But others are fully supportive of the school and praise the education it is providing for their children.

Gill Jackson, who has a son at the school, said she had ‘no problems at all’ with St Anne’s.

She said: “The school listens when I have an issue and he is progressing really well. But I believe if a child is willing to learn it doesn’t matter what school they go to.”

Emma Scott was another parent with only good things to say about the school.

“My daughter is Year 10, a good achiever in primary school and continues to do well at high school here at St Anne’s,” she said.

“I have no concerns in regards to the teaching so long as the teachers continue to deliver and encourage education to a good standard, ensuring every pupil has the opportunity to reach their potential.”

Kim Dixon’s, whose eldest son left St Anne’s last year, also sang the school’s praises.

“He did amazingly well in his GCSEs, I had very few problems whilst he was there and any issues were dealt with well,” she said.

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“I couldn’t fault the school at all. He’s always had the right attitude and been willing to learn and try his best.”

Chris Heyes, headteacher at St Anne’s, has given his response to the report.

He said: “We recognize that as a school we are very much on a journey of improvement. But since joining the Cranmer Education Trust in 2021, and as is pointed out in the latest Ofsted report – undertaken on a hugely more rigorous and challenging framework than previous inspections – that journey is now well underway.

“We continue to improve across all areas of the school, at pace.”

“In relation to our special education provision they specifically noted that ‘pupils, parents and carers value the support that leaders and teachers provide for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)’ and that there is ‘a strong culture of safeguarding’. “

Mr Heyes said the vast majority of parents who responded to an Ofsted questionnaire were ‘very positive’ about the school.

“We are in regular communication with our parents through our own surveys and a regular parent focus group and have a clear understanding of what they want for their children and also that the majority are happy with the way things are progressing,” he added.

“Building a great school is a joint effort. I want to thank our pupils, our staff, our parents and our community who have supported and continue to support St Anne’s throughout.

“Together we will make our school everything St Anne’s can be, and is meant to be, for all our young people.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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