Nelson primary school wins Oftsed ‘standards’ appeal

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Lancashire County Council has welcomed the successful Ofsted appeal by Walverden Primary School, Nelson.

Ofsted’s decision – based on much-improved school test results and other measures – means that the school will not now be forced to become an academy.

The county council had been instructed by the Department for Education to issue a warning notice to the school, the first stage in a process leading to a forced change to academy status.

However the council wrote to the DfE to explain it did not believe the school should be forced to become an academy, particularly when it already had a robust improvement plan in place which was expected to lead to an upturn in pupils’ performance.

In May, 2012, the county council was directed to issue the warning notice to the school and the school appealed to Ofsted to contest the grounds for this decision.

Ofsted has now upheld that appeal in light of recent academic results and the school improvement information submitted by the school.

Welcoming this news, County Coun. Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “I welcome this decision which vindicates our argument that Walverden has been improving, with our support, and that the school’s improvement plan will ensure pupils receive the high-quality education they deserve.

“I’m sure the school will soon put this episode behind them and get on with the crucial work of providing an excellent education for their children.”

Provisional results for this year’s SATs – the tests which 11-year-olds take before they finish primary school – show that Walverden has now exceeded the Government target of 60% of pupils reaching Level 4 and above in English and maths.

Pupils have also made above-target progress between the ages of 7 and 11. Both sets of results are a significant improvement on last year’s scores.

County Coun. Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, said: “The county council has a superb track record in helping schools improve, and the staff and pupils at Walverden have worked extremely hard, as shown by these excellent provisional results.

“Walverden Primary is on track to sustain these improvements, and I should like to wholeheartedly congratulate everyone who has been involved in achieving this very positive outcome.”

Margaret Thacker, headteacher at Walverden Primary School, added: “This is great news for the school and confirmation that we are moving in the right direction. We were always confident that we had a robust improvement plan in and we are glad that Ofsted have agreed.

“I’m looking forward to working with our staff and colleagues from Lancashire County Council to build on recent successes. The future of the school is looking bright.”