A flagship free school run from temporary classrooms for five years has been been given an ‘inadequate’ rating by Ofsted inspectors. The damning report is critical of the standard of reading, mathematics and describes the teaching of the wider curriculum in the school as ‘weak’.
The school which was dubbed the Portakabin Academy because it has been in temporary classrooms at Streatham and Croydon rugby football club at Brigstock Road since it opened in September 2014 was inspected in May 2017 with Ofsted saying it ‘required improvement’
However, in the latest inspection in November, published last month the school was further downgraded to ‘inadequate.’
In July last year the Department for Education published a financial warning on Paxton Academy ordering it to join the Wandle Learning Trust immediately.
The school fell into financial problems as too few pupils took up places as its move to a permanent home was delayed.
The 630 capacity school for four to 11-year-olds, only has a 188 pupil roll and is now part of the Wandle Learning Trust which is led by two outstanding schools in Balham.
A new interim local governing body was put in place with an interim executive headteacher. The inspectors say the new trust leaders’ ambition is ‘high’ and the new interim executive headteacher is making changes, but at present pupils ‘do not receive a good enough quality of education.’
The school will finally move in to its new home at 843 London Road in Spring and is advertising for a new head teacher.
The report goes on to say: “Staff expectations of what pupils can achieve are not high enough. Sequences of lessons are not well planned. As a result, pupils have gaps in their learning. They do not gain the knowledge and skills needed to build on what they already know.
“Staff expectations of pupils’ behaviour are too low. Too many pupils find it difficult to follow instructions and do not listen to adults carefully. When this happens, adults do not routinely remind pupils of the agreed behaviour rules. This means that poor behaviour disrupts learning.
“Trust leaders know that there are weaknesses in pupils’ learning. Leaders have started to put plans in place to address this. “
The inspector also say the needs of pupils with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) have not been identified at an early stage.
It goes on : “Pupils are not well prepared for life in modern Britain. The school’s curriculum does not provide enough opportunities for pupils to learn about different faiths, customs and cultures. Leaders should ensure that the curriculum provides all pupils with sufficient understanding and appreciation of world religions, cultures and the wider world. “
When Paxton opened in September 2014, it was given assurances by the DfE that its permanent building would be ready in 18 to 24 months. But no planning application was submitted by the government until 2016. Permission was granted in June 2018, but only after the decision was called in by the government after Croydon Council rejected the plans as unsuitable for a school.
The school new building (pictured left), includes classrooms over three storeys with a multi use games area sports play on the fourth floor roof deck, as well as studios for dance, music and drama and specialist science classrooms.
Sian Mathias, Chair of Trustees Wandle Learning Trust , said: “Ofsted have been very clear about the aspects that require our focus. As a Trust we are confident that we can work effectively together with the senior team, staff and our parents to make the improvements that are needed to provide an excellent local education for families in Thornton Heath.”