Marlwood School ‘can start a new chapter’ after good Ofsted report

A SECONDARY school “can start a new chapter” after inspectors from the education watchdog said it is now a ‘good’ school.

Ofsted visited Marlwood School in Alveston in November and its report, published in December, said the school is now good in all areas – quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, leadership and management, and personal development.

It comes six years after the school was rated as ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures, following a damning inspection in 2017.

The struggles of the school, in Vattingstone Lane, featured heavily in the BBC TV series School, which was being filmed at the time and was broadcast the following year.

Following the 2017 report Marlwood was subjected to a series of “monitoring visits” by Ofsted, as a new head teacher Del Planter, worked to address Ofsted’s criticisms. 

In December 2019 the school was finally taken out of special measures. 

Current head teacher Seema Purewal said the school could now “start a new chapter”, after a journey which “has not always been easy”.

Miss Purewal took over in September 2021 and set about finishing the job of reshaping the school.

After Ofsted’s most recent visit a team of three inspectors said the school had made significant improvements to the curriculum. 

Their report said: “The curriculum is now broad and ambitious for all pupils. The essential knowledge and vocabulary that pupils need to learn has been identified.”

The inspectors observed that most pupils behaved well, and said: “Pupils enjoy their time at Marlwood School. Staff know pupils well and build positive relationships with them.”

The inspectors also praised the Castle School Education Trust, which runs the school, saying: “Expertise from the trust has had a demonstrable impact on the curriculum and pupils’ behaviour and attendance.

“Staff have the expertise they need. Consequently, most pupils achieve well.” 

The report found that teaching includes opportunities for pupils to revisit learning, build on what they know, and allow teachers can close gaps in learning and “correct misconceptions”. 

The inspectors said: “Most pupils read widely and often, helping them to become more confident readers and expand their vocabularies.” 

They said pupils with special educational needs or disabilities get the extra support they need to meet the high expectations of them.

In order to continue improvement, the inspector recommended that CSET should ensure the curriculum enables pupils to “consolidate and apply their knowledge over time and in a variety of contexts”.

They also said the school should use the information it collects about pupil behaviour and personal development to “address the root causes of issues that affect groups of pupils”.

Head’s tribute for ‘real team effort’ to improve school

Marlwood School head teacher Seema Purewal

Marlwood head teacher Seema Purewal says the school has finally turned a corner and become a place the community can be proud of.

Miss Purewal faced some criticism after joining in September 2021 as she insisted on improved discipline and behaviour to drive up standards.

Now she says she hopes the pupils, parents and whole community can see it has been worth it.

Miss Purewal said: “We have been on a journey, which has not always been easy. 

“This ‘good’ Ofsted accolade means Marlwood can start a new chapter, and take its rightful place in the community.”

She said the previous report in 2019 showed the school was on the right tracks – but the pandemic brought setbacks.

Miss Purewal said: “As a small school with a family feel, it has been a real team effort. 

“The staff are very much on side – it’s been important that we all pull together to get this result.

“The staff have been working very hard for the last two years, helping get the curriculum right and ensuring our school ethos works for all.

“As head teacher, it has been my job to drive the improvements, so I have I have had to make tough choices, which were sometimes not popular with children and parents.  

“But I hope now the community can see that as well as being caring school, we have to be on the right track with uniform, discipline and behaviour. 

“We have high expectations of all our pupils, not just academic, but also how they conduct themselves and maintain the school values.” 

Miss Purewal introduced a school ethos based on “Respect, Responsibility and Resilience”.

She said: “I believe this is very important for the school, and for the community. We need to respect others, including different cultures and ways of life.

“It’s also important not to blame – but to take responsibility for our actions, and for our part in life.

“Marlwood’s motto is ‘Names not just numbers, outlook as well as outcomes’.

“We look at the pupil as an individual, not just a number on the roll.  We hope they feel part of our family.”

Miss Purewal hopes the school will now go from strength to strength.

Pupil numbers have risen from 460 in 2019 to 550 now. 

She said: “This growth shows we are attracting children whose parents want to choose Marlwood. 

“Pupils come from many of the villages around Alveston, and increasingly from further afield.  We hope numbers will grow as the good news spreads and we become more popular.

“I hope from now on pupils, staff and parents can be proud of Marlwood and its emerging new identity.”