Blackheath Bluecoat School going out on the up
Remember Greenwich Council deciding to close Blackheath Bluecoat school, and councillors ignoring a protest by pupils to guzzle wine at a party over the road?
Well, the pupils have responded in the best possible way – by cracking on with their studies. The result…
Blackheath Bluecoat Church of England Secondary School is celebrating after being graded by OfSTED as ‘Good’ for the very first time.
In its last inspection three years ago, the school was judged to be ‘Satisfactory’ and in 2003 was in ‘Special Measures.’
May’s OfSTED inspection also judged Blackheath Bluecoat School ‘Good’ in each of the key judgements – Achievement, Teaching, Behaviour and Safety and Leadership and Management.
The ‘Good’ inspection report follows on from a long line of achievements since the school went into a federation with a more successful school in Wandsworth, Saint Cecilia’s, Wandsworth, also a Church of England School.
Since the federation was inaugurated in January 2009:
• The percentage of pupils attaining five good GCSEs (including English and Mathematics) has nearly doubled from 31% to 59% (the national average is 58%)
• The school was identified by The Schools Network as being in the top 10% of the most improving schools in England.
• Pupil absence has decreased from 7.9% to 4.9% (the national average is 5.7%)
The inspectors made a number of observations, the following amongst them:
“Students are thriving because they are well known as individuals and given the right amount of support they need to achieve well.”
“Students behave well in lessons and they are considerate of others around the school.”
“The good sixth form assists students in preparing well for the future.”
“Students feel safe and happy in school, largely as a result of good, mutually respectful relationships with one another and with staff who provide good quality care for students from all backgrounds and circumstances.”
Commenting on the report, Blackheath Bluecoat School’s Chair of Governors David Prescott said:
“This is a remarkable achievement by our Headteacher Barnaby Ash, the Senior Leadership Team, the staff and the pupils. The Governors were convinced that going into a federation with another successful school would transform Blackheath Bluecoat School and it has.
“It is bitter sweet news after seeing our Building Schools for the Future move to the Peninsula cancelled by this Government and the decision by Greenwich Council to close Blackheath Bluecoat School because of budget constraints caused by a declining number of pupils coming to the school.
“But the school is determined to continue to do its very best right until our last day of operation, which is why we created the banner to thank the pupils and inspire them to even greater exam success in the next few weeks. Hopefully we will be able to establish a new Church of England Secondary in the borough very soon, built on Blackheath Bluecoat School’s solid achievements, determination and hard work.”
Headteacher Barnaby Ash added:
“I am delighted that OfSTED has validated the enormous strides forward this school has made in recent years. It is a fitting testimony to the hard work of the staff and pupils in bringing about such a significant improvement in the school since 2009. The school has truly improved the life chances of pupils attending the school since the inauguration of the federation in 2009. It makes the fact that the school will be closed by Greenwich Council in 2014 even more poignant, and is clear evidence of what might have been possible if only we had been given more time.”
In five years or so, Greenwich borough will need more secondary school places… by which time Blackheath Bluecoat will be gone after 300 years, despite rapid and remarkable improvement. With its management team looking to open up a new school (presumably not under the council’s auspices), closing Blackheath Bluecoat may well prove to be one of the the council’s more dimly short-sighted decisions.