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Signs of revival but school still has some way to go

ACCRINGTON'S Moorhead High School is showing signs of revival but has still not fully recovered from its troubled past.

ACCRINGTON'S Moorhead High School is showing signs of revival but has still not fully recovered from its troubled past.

That's the conclusion of Ofsted inspectors, who visited the 894-pupil school at the beginning of October and identified serious weaknesses which need attention. They include continuing poor attendance, some unsatisfactory behaviour and under-achievement by pupils, particularly white boys, in the run-up to GCSE exams.

The inspectors' report states: "The school's effectiveness has been unsatisfactory in recent years. This is because it is a school recovering from a lengthy period of difficulty, during which working conditions for both staff and pupils across two run-down sites were very poor, staff relationships were unsatisfactory and there were incidents of racial tension.
"There were difficulties in recruiting permanent staff along with weaknesses in both leadership and governance. There are now signs of revival. During the academic year 2002-3 the school gradually became firmly established on one site with new and refurbished buildings of good quality, along with a much-strengthened leadership team, a more settled staff and a much more involved governing body. The school, however, has yet to emerge completely from the effects of its past.''

The report's conclusion is that improvement since the last inspection is barely satisfactory and value for money is still unsatisfactory.

The school's main weaknesses are:

Standards of attainment have declined, especially at GCSE level, in recent years.
Achievement, particularly in core subjects and humanities in Year 11, is unsatisfactory.
Attendance is well below average;
The attitudes and behaviour of a significant minority of pupils, particularly lower-attaining pupils in Years 9 and 11, are unsatisfactory.
Although teaching overall is satisfactory, and good in some subjects, there is some weak teaching with consequent weaknesses in pupils' learning and achievement.
Weaknesses in the previous leadership and management are still having some residual effects.
Provision for maths, humanities, religious education and citizenship is unsatisfactory.

Inspectors compared Asian pupils, who make up 19 per cent of the intake, and white pupils and found the latter, particularly white boys, under-achieved overall.

On the positive side, the report states some key issues have been effectively tackled, such as special educational needs provision and improving aspects of the curriculum. And it adds: "Parents are pleased with the improving situation at the school and pupils are pleased with its new buildings and improved resources and facilities.''

The inspectors recommend governors and staff concentrate on improving the weaker teaching and teachers' expectations of pupils, strengthening the school's management, improving pupils' achie-vement and tackling low attendance.

Acknowledging there is still a lot of work to be done, headteacher Andrew Bateman said: "The report has confirmed many of our own opinions about how far we have come and how far we still have to go."


Stuart Pike
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