Ofsted Report

Kirkby Stephen Grammar School was praised by Ofsted inspectors following their visit on January 18 2017 for almost all aspects of its education but was criticised for inadequate site security.

While the inspector’s report judged teaching, learning and assessment, results and behaviour as good the school, one of the country’s smallest secondaries with a sixth form, was judged to be not safeguarding pupils because the site is too accessible.

The judgement means that despite its good standard of education the school will be put into special measures until the site security is improved.

Chair of Governors, Mr Simon Bennett said: ‘It is important for students, parents and staff to focus on what makes a school effective. A school is defined by what goes on inside and not by its buildings or location.

'On all the measures that are important to our young people’s futures this is a good school and Ofsted has recognised that. Unfortunately the inspectors weren’t happy about the security arrangements we have and that trumped everything else.'

'Of course we take safeguarding of children extremely seriously. On every statutory measure the inspectors found no significant problems and our students told inspectors they feel safe and secure here. Governors and staff had already assessed the safety of the school site given its location and the rural community it serves and believe we have taken, and continue to take all precautions necessary for our circumstances. Cleary Ofsted has a different agenda.'

'It is a failing of the inspection system rather than the school if an overall judgement is defined by a lack of a fence or not enough locks on doors rather than the excellent teaching, leadership, behaviour and outcomes of the school.’

The report highlighted the leadership of the headteacher for particular praise as well as the work of senior management, governors, department heads, the head of sixth form and the attitude and behaviour of pupils.

Headteacher, Mrs Ruth Houston said: ‘While we don't believe students are at significant risk from intruders we will, of course, do what we can to address Ofsted’s concerns but our priority remains to deliver the best teaching we can so that our young people have the best start to their adult lives.

‘I am confident that once additional security measures are in place Ofsted will give us the overall judgement our school deserves.’

Under special measures the school will now receive regular monitoring visits from an inspector until Ofsted is satisfied that its security concerns have been addressed.

In 2013 the school was judged as good. In both that and the latest reports Ofsted found pupils felt safe and secure at school.

Mr Bennett said: ‘We have already drawn up plans to tighten school access but a small school such as this has a very limited budget and having worked so hard to put the school on a sound financial footing over the last four years we have few resources and will not divert money from teaching.’

The Department of Education provides emergency funding only when a school is in immediate danger of closure.

Kirkby Stephen
Cumbria, CA17 4HA

T: (+44) 17683 71693
F: (+44) 17683 72387

Mrs Ruth Houston


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