Marlwood's new lease of life

January 20 2020
Marlwood's new lease of life

INSPECTORS have hailed the turnaround in fortunes at Marlwood School as it exits special measures.

Education watchdog Ofsted visited the secondary school in Alveston to check on its progress and said the school was "enjoying a new lease of life".

While concluding that the school still requires improvement overall, the inspectors rated it good in three out of four categories and praised the progress made under head teacher Del Planter

It marks a huge turnaround for the school, which was rated 'inadequate' less than three years ago. 

Ofsted inspectors visited Marlwood shortly before Christmas and their report, which has just been published, said it had moved up from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’ in three out of four categories: behaviour and attitudes; personal development; leadership and management.  

In the fourth category, for quality of teaching, inspectors upgraded it from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’ - but the report was full of praise for the progress made in this area under the leadership of head teacher Del Planter.  

It described him as having an "ambitious vision" and said: "The impact of his work is not yet fully embedded." 

In a letter to parents Mr Planter said the Ofsted inspection team was "confident that the school is close to securing a ‘Good’ judgement" but had just missed out this time because the changes he is overseeing need more time to make an impact.  

The inspectors wrote: “This school is enjoying a new lease of life.  

"Pupils now look forward to coming to school. They are keen to tell visitors how much it has improved recently.  

"There is a real community spirit that includes pupils, teachers and leaders alike. Parents and carers are virtually unanimous in their praise for the school and the head teacher.”  

Mr Planter, who joined the school at the start of the 2018/19 academic year, said: “For us to achieve this with three out of the four areas graded as ‘Good’ is a testament to what can be achieved through strong ambitious leadership and a school community working together for excellence.  

"Student numbers are increasing rapidly and the school is now focussed on the next stage of progress towards the vision we have set out."  

Marlwood School was graded ‘Inadequate’ back in May 2017 and placed in Special Measures, which means it is subject to extra monitoring of standards by Ofsted and offered support to improve. 

In the autumn of 2018 the challenges the school faced were laid bare in the award-winning BBC documentary School, including the funding crisis which left it without some equipment and supplies. 

Parents and friends mobilised to help and set up the Friends of Marlwood School, known as FOMS. With 1,500 members, it has rebuilt community spirit and raised substantial funds to help, following years of budget cuts.  

Since then Mr Planter has put a new curriculum in place, which inspectors said was "at the heart of the school’s improvement". 

Mr Planter said: “A lot of work has gone into improving the school and to see the pride and joy as a result of this outcome is fantastic. 

"I think the TV programme captured the attention of people across the country, with the last images of Marlwood pointing to a very bleak future, and consequently there have been lots of positive messages in response.  

"As an ambitious school there will be no resting on our laurels as we pursue excellence and address areas we need to improve.”