Ofsted endorses school engagement with remote learning

Ofsted has endorsed Hartshill School’s approach to supporting its pupils’ learning during the coronavirus lockdown following a remote inspection of its provision earlier this month.

The report that was published following Ofsted’s visit on 4 March 2021 stated that leaders and governors at the school had ‘taken effective action’ to maintain pupils’ education by recreating the school timetable online enabling them to be taught live at home in virtual classrooms. Ofsted stated that leaders ‘trained teachers well’ in how to deliver remote learning and ‘more and more pupils are consistently engaging’ with their studies.  

The report also praised the school for making ‘sensible adjustments’ to its five-year curriculum and placing an emphasis on learning that promotes mental health and wellbeing. Provision for vulnerable pupils and pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities was judged to be effective.  

Ofsted noted that pupils had been enabled to access essential supplies to help them with their lockdown learning thanks to an initiative by the school to deliver stationery, pens, and sanitary products across the local area by community bus.

The report noted that the school is supporting Year 11 pupils effectively by providing them with useful information, advice and guidance on their next steps including a remote careers interview. Pupils have been offered extra lessons where appropriate to help them prepare for their post-16 education. 

Ofsted acknowledged that the Midland Academies Trust has provided effective support including on practical matters such as checking leaders’ plans for the reopening of the school. This practical support has sharpened leaders focus on delivering education. The school has also benefited from the challenge provided by a Raising Achievement Board which has contributed to improvements in the quality of remote learning.

The monitoring visit was carried out as part of Ofsted’s procedures for visiting schools while routine inspections remain temporarily suspended.

Dr Louise Newman, Principal of Hartshill School said, “We welcome the findings of Ofsted as part of this remote visit and its report provides fitting recognition of the considerable effort that has been made to maintain pupils’ engagement with teaching and learning during what has been a challenging time for everybody. Now that we have reopened the school to all pupils, we can continue to follow the five-year curriculum that is helping us to improve the school as we move forward.”

Simon Lomax, Executive Principal for the Midland Academies Trust said, “The MAT welcomes this endorsement of the significant progress that the school has made under the leadership of Dr Louise Newman. Ofsted has recognised the hard work and determination of the whole team in maintaining our provision despite the challenges of lockdown and we are sure that with this endorsement, Hartshill School will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Earlier this year, Hartshill School learned that it had been successful in securing government funding for a complete rebuild on its current site. It is set to benefit from brand new state of the art facilities with work due to start by the end of this year. The redevelopment project will deliver a transformative facility that is fit for 21st century teaching and will be carbon neutral by design.

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Chief Executive Officer of the Midland Academies Trust said, “This report marks an important milestone for Hartshill School on its journey towards continuous improvement. Its relentless focus on supporting pupils to maintain their education journey despite unprecedented challenges has really helped to ensure that they are in the best possible position to progress with their studies and get the most out of the innovative curriculum we have developed across the MAT.”