THOMAS Rotherham College is making “reasonable progress” a year after it was told to improve by Government inspectors.
College leaders had promised to be “good” or “outstanding” within a year — but the monitoring visit by Ofsted found there was still a way to go.
The initial damning inspection came just two weeks after former principal Dr Richard Williams retired after 11 years at the helm.
Since then, the college has been rocked by the sudden and unexplained departure of his permanent replacement, Shirley Brookes-Mills, in June after just six months’ in charge.
Prior to Ms Brookes-Mills’ appointment, interim-principal Dr Stephan Jungnitz had said he was “confident that this year’s, and next year’s outcomes, will be on the way to good, if not outstanding” in the wake of the poor rating.
The latest monitoring inspection found leaders and managers were making “reasonable progress” in addressing the areas for improvement identified at the previous inspection
Rachel Angus, lead inspector, said: “At the previous inspection, the college had a small senior leadership team with a part-time interim principal.
“Following the inspection, leaders focused on improving teachers’ practice and they communicated their expectations for improvement to teachers.
“However, leaders did not formally include these expectations in their performance management of individual staff.
“Consequently, improvements to teaching, learning and assessment did not happen consistently across the college.
“A-level examination results improved slightly in the summer, when an increased number of students achieved high grades. Too many students, however, did not make the progress of which they were capable.”
The 1,548-pupil college converted to an academy just prior to Dr Wiliiams’ retirement.
Ms Angus said governors had recruited a full senior leadership team, and the pace of improvement had quickened.
“A permanent principal took up position in June 2018 and a deputy principal, with responsibility for quality assurance and quality improvement, took up post in August 2018,” she added.
A middle-management restructure was underway and heads of faculties were being introduced to strengthen curriculum leadership and improve communication and accountability.
“It is too early to identify the impact of these action,” said Ms Angus.
The inspector said summer exam results had been rigorously evaluated to identify strengths and weaknesses and managers’ observations of lessons had “identified precisely how teachers need to improve their practice”.
She added: “Managers have plans, which are in their infancy, to increase the accountability of tutors for students’ attendance.
“The attendance of students in Year 12 has increased and is high, but the attendance of students in Year 13 is not high enough.”
Ms Angus praised students in computing classes who had demonstrated “high-level, problem-solving and coding skills” but said in a minority of subject areas, improvements in the quality of teaching, learning and assessment were slower.
Oakwood High School headteacher David Naisbitt is currently acting principal of TRC.
He said: “We are pleased with the findings of the recent Ofsted monitoring report, which highlights the good progress, which has been made at the college since the previous full inspection, leading to improved outcomes for our students.”