Ofsted Report

Hailsham Community College had a full Ofsted inspection on 13th and 14th March 2023. The inspectors visited many lessons and spent their time speaking with staff and students. They also looked at assessment data, behaviour and attendance information, and reviewed Ofsted’s Parent View feedback.

Ofsted Report – Frequently Asked Questions

How many lessons did the inspectors visit?
We do not know the exact total, but they visited a number of lessons across the primary, secondary and sixth form. They particularly focused on Maths, History, Reading, Art, MFL and PE.

When did they speak to students and staff?
Throughout their visit, the inspectors met with groups of staff and students. Sometimes, they spoke to individuals too whilst they were observing lessons or break and lunch times.

How did they gather Parent and Carer feedback?
We provided them with some of our own information, but they also used the feedback that parents and carers had written on Parent View.

Why was the Quality of Education graded as Requires Improvement?
The inspectors recognised that the quality of education at the college had lots of strengths. In the secondary and primary phase, the curriculum is broad, balanced and well sequenced. However, in the secondary phase not all teachers have strong subject knowledge and sometimes, teachers do not check pupils’ understanding carefully enough and so do not identify any gaps in pupils’ learning. It was recognised that the curriculum was delivered more effectively in the 6th Form and primary phase.

Why was Behaviour and Attitudes graded as Inadequate?
In the secondary phase, the report states that whilst some lessons are calm and orderly, many are disrupted by pupils’ poor behaviour. At social times, the conduct of a significant minority of pupils makes others feel vulnerable. Some students in the secondary phase do not feel safe and some are not confident that staff will deal with bullying quickly or efficiently. Inspectors identified that students displayed a lack of courtesy and mutual respect in Years 7 to 11 and that too many pupils behave poorly or remain in corridors when they should be in their lessons learning.

Before the inspection took place, we had already identified that the behaviour of some students in the secondary phase was a concern. This is why we met with parents on 23rd of March and shared our plans to implement a new behaviour system, which was undertaken at the start of this new term. We told the inspectors about this and showed them that we were doing something about it. We will continue to drive improvements in this area and really appreciate the support that has been shown from parents so far. We all want our college to feel safe and respectful and we will not tolerate persistent poor conduct.

The report states that, ‘in stark contrast, pupils in the primary phase and students in the sixth form behave well. Classrooms here are calm and purposeful. Pupils have positive attitudes to their learning.

Why was Personal Development graded as Requires Improvement?
Personal Development is a broad term that is used to cover our Personal, Social and Health Curriculum as well as areas such as mentoring and assemblies. We are aware that Personal Development in the secondary phase needs further improvement and have recently appointed a new member of staff as the Director of Learning for Personal Development. This is a brand-new post in recognition of the importance that our Personal Development curriculum has in supporting our students socially and emotionally. We have also recently appointed a new Careers Co-ordinator.In contrast, in the primary phase, the report states that pupils are considerate towards others. They talk about mutual respect, democracy and tolerance in a mature and thoughtful manner. These are key aspects of the Personal Development framework.

Why was Leadership and Management graded as Requires Improvement?
The inspection team was confident that the newly appointed Secondary Senior Leadership Team had the capacity to make the improvements that are needed. It was acknowledged that we currently have a Senior Leadership Team that is part of an Interim structure. Our Interim Head of School (Secondary) had returned from maternity leave just 15 days before the inspection took place. Therefore, whilst the inspectors knew that Trustees had acted swiftly to make changes, there simply hadn’t been enough time for the newly appointed leaders to make any major changes or improvements. If the inspection team did not have confidence in the leadership team to make the necessary changes, then the school would have been graded as inadequate with ‘special measures’ but instead it was graded Inadequate with ‘serious weaknesses’. Leadership of the Primary phase and in Sixth Form are Good and so that is why the overall Leadership and Management grade is Requires Improvement

Why were the Early Years phase and the Sixth Form both graded as good?
The report highlights the strengths that were evident across the Primary phase and the Sixth Form. Early Years, and the Sixth Form, receive separate judgements as part of the inspection framework, as these areas do not follow the national curriculum, whereas the primary and secondary site receive grades in the four areas of: Quality of Education, Behaviour and Attitudes, Personal Development and Leadership and Management. Despite inspectors recognising there were considerable differences between the phases, as an all-through college, we are then given one overall grade.

Why was the Overall judgement graded as Inadequate?
Regrettably, as one of the main inspection categories is ‘Inadequate’, it automatically means the whole college has to be graded as such. You may have seen in the news recently that many influential politicians and educators are arguing that a single word is a very unfair way of summarising the judgement of an entire school. We are of course disappointed and understand that you as parents and carers will be also. However, it must not deflect us from the many positive things that the inspectors saw when they visited us.

Does this mean the college is in Special Measures?
No. There are two categories to an overall judgement of ‘Inadequate’. The first is the one that we have been given, which is that there are ‘serious weaknesses’ but where there is recognition that the school is able to improve. The second category is ‘special measures’ and this is given where there is doubt that the school is able to make the improvements needed without further help and support.

Will the school close as it has been judged inadequate?
No. As stated above, although the college has been rated Inadequate overall, this was only because one of the main categories was judged to be Inadequate. Inspectors have graded the school as having Serious Weaknesses, which means that they believe the current leaders know what to do to improve the school.

Will the college get more funding?
Unfortunately, no. However, we are already budgeting for the next academic year, and we are reviewing our spending to make sure it is targeted at the things we believe will help us to make improvements.

I’m concerned that I am sending my child to a college that has been graded as Inadequate.
We understand that your child’s happiness and wellbeing is paramount, and we share this view. We want all children to be able to come to school and learn in an environment which is safe and harmonious and enables them to achieve excellent outcomes. This is why we have been very clear about our plans and expectations in our communication with parents. We will do our utmost to support you and your children and should you have any concerns regarding their wellbeing or progress, please contact their Mentor, House Leader or the relevant subject teacher in the first instance.

What will HCC do to ensure that the good teachers don’t leave?
Many of our staff have worked at the college for a long time and know you and your children well. We are very fortunate to have a team of people that work in various roles across the college who are all totally invested in our community and are committed to helping us to improve; this ensures your children are given the best opportunities. Like all schools, some staff may move on to pastures new as time goes on, but as you are aware, we have recently recruited teachers and will continue to appoint new staff when needed.

What happens next?
At some point, Ofsted inspectors will return to undertake a monitoring visit. We do not know when this will be, but we imagine it will be in the next few months. During this visit, we will need to demonstrate our improvements, particularly around behaviour, attendance and attitudes.

How do I ask any more questions about Ofsted?
If you wish to ask any further questions about the Ofsted report or process, please do not call the college but instead send an email to ofsted@hccat.net and somebody will respond to you. Please note that our reception staff are unable to take any telephone calls regarding Ofsted queries.

What can I do to help?
We know that the vast majority of students are fantastic ambassadors for our college and wider community. We also know that there is a significant minority of students who are not meeting our expectations. As parents/carers, we cannot stress enough how your support can make a huge difference to the culture and climate of our college. We now need your support so please ensure your child arrives on time for college, in correct uniform with the correct equipment, attends all lessons, and shows respect for themselves, to others, and to our college environment. If every young person arrived at the college wanting to do their very best, it would make a hugely positive difference for everyone!