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'Good' Grange School bounces back from 'inadequate' Ofsted rating

A STRUGGLING Christchurch school previously rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted inspectors received a glowing report from inspectors.

The Grange School in Somerford was given the lowest overall rating possible by the education watchdog in 2018, with a damning report citing the "poor behaviour" and attendance of pupils there.

But following a two-day inspection in December last year the school has now been judged 'good' overall and was said to have "improved considerably".

Executive headteacher Jy Taylor and head of school Liz Garman with head boy Toby Isaacs and head girl Indie Thomson (photo: Steve West)
Executive headteacher Jy Taylor and head of school Liz Garman with head boy Toby Isaacs and head girl Indie Thomson (photo: Steve West)

Executive headteacher Jy Taylor, who also has responsibility for Twynham School in Christchurch, was recognised for playing a big part in improving the Grange.

Both Mr Taylor and head of school Liz Garman were commended for "keeping a close eye on staff wellbeing", with morale said to be "high".

Mr Taylor said he was pleased to see the hard work of Mrs Garman and other staff recognised in the report.

"The Grange is a good school, and having this confirmed by Ofsted allows our students, their parents and our staff to rightly be proud of it," he said.

The Ofsted report noted: "Over the last three years, the head of school Liz Garman has steadily and determinedly insisted that all staff expect more of pupils.

"Consequently, teachers now have high aspirations for pupils and, following her example, they see the potential in all pupils, no matter what their background or circumstances. Parents recognise this and appreciate it."

Rules around pupil behaviour were also applied consistently, the report stated, with children said to respond well to teachers' calm approach.

Inspectors said that although there was "little bullying", where it did occur pupils reported that teachers took incidents seriously and acted quickly to put a stop to them.

The report continued: "Pupils know that staff care for them. Staff are well trained and throughout the Covid pandemic have checked consistently on pupils’ wellbeing.

"As a result of the calm, friendly character of the school, pupils feel safe and secure.

"Leaders continually look for opportunities to build pupils’ self-confidence, and have devised a ‘character curriculum’ that promotes positive personal traits like kindness, respect, determination and pride."

Improvements in the school's languages curriculum were also recognised, and had resulted in a growing number of pupils choosing to study languages at GCSE level.

The proportion of students studying the English Baccalaureate suite of academic subjects was also said to be "increasing rapidly", and senior staff were said to place a "high priority" on pupils' reading skills.

Mrs Garman said the report "accurately captures the school I see every day", where pupils were explicitly taught the school values.

"Of course, the curriculum is crucial and results for students make an enormous difference to their futures, but equally important for me is that the report recognises the calm and friendly character of the school," she said.

"The inspection highlights the respect our students have for each other and the clubs and events that we run; including the impact of the new school choir."

To improve further, inspectors said school leaders needed to boost attendance rates for disadvantaged pupils, provide greater clarity around careers guidance, and ensure teachers reinforce pupils' mathematical skills across all subjects.

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