School taken out of ‘special measures’

Bicester Community College sign gv.
Bicester Community College sign gv.

A college which was put into special measures by Ofsted last year has been rated ‘good’ for the first time in 20 years.

Bicester Community College received its lowest rating in February last year and after a follow up inspection in March 2013, Ofsted said the school’s improvement plan was ‘not fit for purpose’.

But after an inspection last month, Ofsted said staff had ‘steered’ the college out of special measures.

Bob Wintringham, chairman of the college’s interim executive board (IEB) said: “Bicester Community College is unrecognisable in every way from the establishment that we encountered in April 2013.

“The scale of the achievement of everyone at the college should not be underestimated. To move a school from special measures to a ‘good’ rating, particularly a large, complex secondary school is a spectacular and truly amazing feat.

“The staff team, the parents and the students have all shown a strong commitment and belief that they should be justly proud of. There is now a real sense of industrious calm, which is apparent to any visitor.”

In its report, Ofsted has highlighted ‘good and sometimes outstanding’ teaching in most subjects, including English and maths.

It also says:

> The introduction of Saturday school, after school catch up sessions, Easter holiday revision sessions have transformed the progress made by students;

> Students consistently behave well in class and at times, behaviour is exceptional;

> The headteacher and his acting deputy head have been fundamental to the successful and swift steering of the college out of special measures. Staff agreed that there has been a complete turn around in the ethos and culture of the college. Most staff report that its transformation is exceptional. They consider it to be a privilege and a pleasure to work at Bicester Community College.

Improvements which need to be made include:

> The need for more staff to mark their books in a way that will help students improve their learning;

> Giving students sufficient opportunities to respond to comments made by their teachers;

> Although attendance is average, a small minority of students fails to attend school regularly.