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The Suthers School responds to Ofsted report which rated them as 'Requires Improvement'

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A Newark school has issued a response to an Ofsted report that ruled it required improvement.

The report into The Suthers School, Fernwood, which opened in 2017 and is part of the Nova Education Trust, was graded on four categories ­— quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management.

Despite all other categories being rated as 'Good' by inspectors, behaviour and attitude was rated as 'Requires Improvement', which brought the overall grade down.

Suthers School, building work completed. 080620DD2-1 (36255989)
Suthers School, building work completed. 080620DD2-1 (36255989)

In a statement released by the school in response to the Ofsted report they explained that under the new education inspection framework, schools are now rated as ‘Require Improvement’ overall even if only one of the four categories are judged as such.

The school says it is planning to seek an early re-inspection because it feels the result was not a true reflection of their school, staff and pupils.

Executive Head Teacher, Andy Seymour, said: “Whilst we accept the findings from Ofsted, we are bitterly disappointed that the hard work and unerring commitment of governors, staff, parents, carers and students has not been fully recognised by the inspection team.

“We are pleased to see the team recognise that the everyday experience for children both inside and outside the classroom is judged to be strongly good, alongside the school’s work on the development of character education, which is integral to the school’s unique identity."

Suthers School, Fernwood, Newark. (38086008)
Suthers School, Fernwood, Newark. (38086008)

The school stated that there was disruption due to the first coronavirus lockdown that delayed the construction of their new building, which finally opened in mid-2020 and all student returned following the lifting of social distancing restrictions.

Mr Seymour continued: “The Suthers School, like all schools across the country, has had to contend with the lasting effects of the pandemic and the continued challenges that it brings. High levels of absence amongst both pupils and staff, as well as the disruption to learning habits and routines, has created a significant challenge for learners – particularly younger students – following such significant disruption to learning.

“Everyone at the school is already working hard to ensure that the school will be rightly recognised as at least ‘Good’ at the next inspection.”

Suthers School, Fernwood, Newark. (38085898)
Suthers School, Fernwood, Newark. (38085898)

The report did mention positives at the school with pupils’ growth and well-being hightlighted as being at the forefront of teachers planning and school life as well as enrichment opportunities that cannot be achieved elsewhere.

Other positives found by the Ofsted investigation include; effective safeguarding, teachers described as being passionate and knowledgeable, an inclusive curriculum designed to inspire pupils and give them high aspirations for the future.

In September of last year The Suthers School appointed a new Head Teacher, Nicola Watkin, who had previously worked as Deputy Head at Newark Academy.

The school is confident it can amend their Oftsed rating, saying that Nicola had played a key part in securing Newark Academy’s ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding Leadership and Management’ Ofsted rating in 2019, turning their previously ‘Inadequate’ rating to ‘Good’ within three years.

Suthers School, Fernwood, Newark. (38086001)
Suthers School, Fernwood, Newark. (38086001)

Nicola said: “I am really pleased to see the inspection team recognise that children feel safe and happy within our school community, as well as acknowledging our continued commitment to developing character which sits at the heart of our school.”

“The pandemic has meant that we have had to overcome a series of challenges, but we are more than well placed to ensure that we address the very small areas for development that the team highlight, so that we can be rightly recognised as ‘Good’ at our next inspection.”

The Suthers School say that they have already implemented strategies for change including a new Deputy Head Teacher and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator along with a strengthened governance team and new educational professionals.

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