A HAMPSHIRE school has been placed in special measures after being branded inadequate – the lowest rating given by inspectors.
The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has condemned the standard of teaching and the behaviour of pupils at the New Forest Academy, formerly Hardley School and Sixth-Form.
In a damning verdict on the academy’s first year, Ofsted criticises its poor GCSE results and accuses staff of not inspiring their pupils.
The education watchdog says teachers are failing to set or mark homework while spelling errors and factual mistakes in students’ work are often ignored.
The principal, Andrew Dyer, who took over at the beginning of 2008, is refusing to comment on the report.
But ward councillor Allan Glass said: “I’m astonished and bitterly disappointed. It used to be such a good school.
“They’ve got all the facilities and I can’t understand why they’re not doing better. Now they’re an academy things should be going well.”
The Ofsted inspection follows last year’s GCSE results.
According to the Department for Education only 47 per cent of pupils achieved five A* to C grades including maths and English – well below the total achieved by many other schools in the Southampton area.
Ofsted describes the pupils’ progress as “inadequate”, with many under-achieving in key subjects.
The report says: “The percentage of students attaining five or more A*-C GCSE grades was well below average in 2013. The percentage of high GCSE grades was far lower than that seen nationally.
“Teaching requires improvement because in too many lessons it is not good enough to generate rapid progress.
“There are still teachers whose lessons do not inspire students, who do not prepare work to match students’ abilities and who rarely set and mark homework.”
The 540-student campus in Long Lane, Hardley, became an academy in September 2012.
When its predecessor, Hardley School and Sixth Form, was last inspected by Ofsted in February 2012 it was deemed to require “significant” improvements.
But the latest report condemns the lack of progress, saying standards have actually declined since the site became an academy. It adds: “Year 11 students entered the predecessor school with average standards but their standards had fallen by the end of the academy’s first year. In 2013 less than half the students attained five or more GCSE A* - C grades including English and maths.”
The report says the quality of teaching needs to improve and also describes the behaviour of pupils as inadequate.
“Behaviour in lessons reflects the quality of teaching. When teaching is good the students are attentive, keen to learn, answer questions enthusiastically and contribute willingly to discussions. When students are not taught well the opposite is true.”
The report says some of the pupils resort to “low-level disruption” in class such as whistling and table-tapping.
It adds: “Outside of lessons the behaviour of a very small minority of students is not good. Horseplay goes too far or students behave inappropriately.”
Leadership and management are also criticised.
“Leaders do not have the capacity to drive the improvements that are needed for the academy to be successful in the future,” says the report.
The Daily Echo asked the academy if it wished to respond to Ofsted’s findings but calls were not returned.
The academy’s motto is “To Make Our Best Better”.
A statement on its website says: “Our aim is to create the best possible educational environment in which our students can succeed. We focus on ensuring that all students make the progress of which they are capable and that every student feels they are stretched. We are a thriving 11-18 Academy with an all-ability intake.
“Through our business and enterprise specialism we challenge and encourage every child to achieve their full potential not just in terms of academic attainment but also in relation to the many extra-curricular and community activities that are on offer here.”