MANSFIELD HIGH SCHOOL

Reference: 157/00/SZ

A report from the Office of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools

 

 

MANSFIELD HIGH SCHOOL

Lancashire Education Authority

2 - 3 March 2000

 

 

CONTENTS

Section

 

BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOOL

 

INTRODUCTION

 

MAIN FINDINGS

 

KEY ISSUES

 

INSPECTION FINDINGS

 

Standards of achievement

 

Quality of education

 

Management and efficiency of the school

 

Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

 

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACTION PLAN

 

 

 

BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOOL

Name of school

Mansfield High School

Type of school

Comprehensive secondary

Status

Community

Age range of pupils

11 - 16 years

Associate Headteacher

Mr P Dixon

Address of school

Elland Road, Brierfield, Nelson, Lancashire BB9 5RX

Telephone

01282 614640

Name and address of appropriate authority

The governing body, address as above

Chair of governors

Mr G Jones

Local education authority area

Lancashire

Unique reference number

119718

Name of reporting inspector

Ms S Hands HMI

Dates of inspection

2-3 March 2000

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Mansfield High School is situated in Brierfield in the borough of Pendle, and serves the local community and surrounding areas. About three quarters of the pupils live in the Brierfield ward; most of the remainder come from the Whitefield ward and the Reedley ward in Pendle. A small proportion of the pupils come from the Pendleside villages. Altogether pupils enter from 32 primary schools, but three quarters come from six schools. The school reflects the area it serves and covers the full spread of ability, social background and ethnic mix. Of the 1,105 pupils on roll, around 20 per cent are entitled to free school meals, a figure which is broadly in line with the national average. There are 139 pupils on the school's register of special educational needs, of whom 28 have a Statement of Special Educational Need. The total number of pupils identified as having special educational needs is below the national average, while the proportion of the pupils who have a Statement of Special Educational Need is broadly in line. The proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language is high at 23 per cent.

The school was inspected by five of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools (HMI) in August 1998 for two days. The inspection was carried out under the School Inspections Act 1996, Section 3, which gives Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools the authority to cause any school to be inspected. The inspection was also deemed a Section 10 inspection under the same Act. As a result of the inspection, the school was made subject to special measures since it was failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education.

The school was visited by HMI in March, June and November 1999 to assess the progress it was making to address the key issues in the inspection report of August 1998.

In March 2000, three HMI inspected the school for two days. The inspection was carried out under the School Inspections Act 1996, Section 3. The inspection was also deemed a Section 10 inspection under the same Act.

Fifty-three lessons or parts of lessons, three assemblies and three registration periods were inspected. The pupils were observed at break and lunch-times, and samples of their work were inspected. Planned meetings were held with the associate headteacher and the heads of the English, mathematics, science and humanities departments. Informal discussions were held with other staff and pupils. A wide range of the school's documentation was scrutinised.

The inspection assessed the quality of education provided and the progress the school has made, in particular in relation to the main findings and key issues in the inspection report of August 1998 and the action plan prepared by the local education authority (LEA) to address those key issues.

MAIN FINDINGS

In accordance with Section 14 of the School Inspections Act 1996, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools is of the opinion that the school no longer requires special measures, since it is now providing an acceptable standard of education for its pupils.

The main findings of the inspection are:

bulletthe school's results in the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations in 1999 improved over the previous year. The proportion of pupils gaining five or more A* to C grades rose by 13 per cent to 46 per cent. This is close to the local and national averages. The proportion of pupils gaining five or more A* to G grades and those achieving one or more A* to G grades exceeded the national averages;
bulletthe results in the National Curriculum assessments at the end of Key Stage 3 in 1999 were broadly in line with local and national averages;
bulletthe quality of the teaching was satisfactory or better in nine out of ten lessons. It was good or very good in a third, and in a few lessons it was outstanding. Effective lessons were well structured, with clear learning objectives and a sense of purpose. The teaching of English and science is satisfactory or better, but there are weaknesses in mathematics, where some of the teachers are temporary;
bulletthe pupils made satisfactory or better progress in eight out of ten lessons. It was good in a quarter, but was never better than that, despite the very high quality of some of the teaching;
bulletassessment procedures are not sufficiently effective in showing pupils how to improve their work, or make better progress;
bulletthe response of pupils to their work was satisfactory or better in nine out of ten lessons. It was good or very good in two fifths. Most pupils have a clear idea of the standard of behaviour expected of them in the classroom. They are co-operative with their teachers and each other;
bulletthe provision for pupils who have special educational needs has improved but remains insufficient;
bulletthe school is strongly led by the associate headteacher. He gives a clear sense of direction to all staff. The governing body is well organised, well informed and effective in monitoring the work of the school;
bulletsystems for the monitoring and evaluation of the work of the school by senior staff are good, and are improving at middle-management level. The quality of departmental documentation remains uneven;
bullettraining opportunities provided for staff are generally good. Professional development sessions on teaching and learning have been particularly effective in improving the consistency and quality of lessons;
bulletthe behaviour of pupils as they move around the school has improved. Increased staff supervision has been helpful in this regard. Exclusions from school are low;
bulletattendance is satisfactory, but lateness to lessons reduces teaching time;
bulletthe provision for pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural education is satisfactory. Statutory requirements in relation to the provision of a daily act of collective worship are met. The school provides a more welcoming environment for all pupils and is trying hard to extend cultural opportunities to encompass different ethnic traditions and practices;
bulletthe school provides satisfactory value for money.

KEY ISSUES

In order to improve the pupils' quality of education further, the governors, senior managers and staff need to:

bulletcontinue to raise standards, particularly in English and mathematics where there is underachievement;
bulletdevelop and implement whole-school policies on literacy and numeracy;
bulletimprove the quality of formative and summative assessment, including marking;
bulletstabilise the staffing and improve the overall quality of the teaching in mathematics;
bulletcontinue to improve the quality and quantity of provision for pupils who have special educational needs;
bulletimprove the quality and consistency of departmental documentation, including schemes of work and departmental development plans.

INSPECTION FINDINGS

Standards of achievement

Attainment in the end-of-Key Stage 3 National Curriculum assessments was broadly in line with national averages in 1999. In comparison with the previous year, there has been a decline in English but some improvement in mathematics and science.

The most recent results in the GCSE examinations show a substantial improvement of 13 per cent over the previous year in the proportion of pupils who gained five or more passes with grades A* to C. The figure achieved was 46 per cent and is very close to local and national averages. The proportions of pupils gaining five or more passes with grades A* to G and one or more pass with A* to G grades were 93 per cent and 97 per cent respectively. These figures are in line with the local averages and exceed national averages. In all three categories girls did better than boys; the difference between boys and girls was very high at 20 per cent for those achieving five or more passes with A* to C grades and is a cause for concern. In particular, Asian-heritage girls did well while Asian-heritage boys did badly.

Standards of reading and writing across the school are generally satisfactory. The standard of spelling is, however, a weak feature of the work of a significant minority of pupils as a result of careless reading and copying of individual words. In other respects, pupils generally present their work neatly and accurately. Pupils are systematically required to undertake individual silent reading both at home and in school, and reading is well promoted. Older pupils are encouraged to analyse and respond to set texts at a suitably challenging level.

On entry to the school, pupils have an average range of distribution of attainment in English. In the recent past they have not made enough progress during Key Stage 3 because their written work has not always received sufficiently rigorous or diagnostic marking, and because insufficiently challenging tasks have been set. The results in the National Curriculum assessments at the end of Key Stage 3 fell in 1999.

The higher-attaining pupils in Key Stage 4 are able to write at length and in a range of different styles for different purposes. In 1999, 56 per cent of the pupils entered for GCSE English achieved grades A* to C, which is above the national average.

Better opportunities for speaking and listening are being provided across the curriculum. Pupils have adequate opportunities for speaking and listening in English, where they co-operate effectively in groups of mixed gender and cultural background. In some modern foreign language lessons, pupils respond to very good teaching by listening intently, and by speaking with a good accent and increasing fluency.

Literacy standards are sound overall, although the use of keywords and formative marking are insufficiently established across the board to promote high literacy standards. The strengths are the standards of handwriting and presentation. Spelling is a weakness, though regular spelling tests are helping produce improvements. Careless habits of copying remain, particularly above Year 7, and mistakes in punctuation are not systematically analysed and addressed. Reading with understanding for meaning is satisfactory.

Standards of oral work are good. Pupils ask thoughtful, practical questions about their work and they show a satisfactory, often good, level of study skills; for instance, coming properly equipped to a lesson, settling to work independently, accurate notemaking and working co-operatively within a group.

The standards achieved in mathematics have improved but there is still some underachievement in the subject, especially by average and lower-attaining pupils, and particularly at Key Stage 4.

The results gained by the pupils in the statutory tests at the end of Key Stage 3 in 1999 were marginally better than the national figures for the proportion achieving Level 5 and above and Level 6 and above; this represents a slight improvement on the 1998 results which previously matched the national figures. The results achieved by the pupils in the GCSE examinations in 1999 showed improvement compared with those for the previous year. The percentage of these entered who achieved grades A* to C rose from 30 to 41 per cent but remained below the national figure of 46 per cent, and the proportion of the pupils achieving A and A* grades remained low.

The higher-attaining pupils are achieving good standards, particularly at Key Stage 3. However, while many of the pupils can apply standard procedures correctly, there are sometimes weaknesses in their underlying understanding and their ability to apply their mathematical knowledge in unfamiliar situations. The pupils' ability to calculate mentally remains limited, and sometimes they are overdependent on calculators to perform straightforward operations.

There is no whole-school policy or strategy for numeracy. Pupils do sometimes have opportunities to apply their numeracy skills in subjects other than mathematics, but these are generally not recognised or promoted as such.

In 1999, 47 per cent of the pupils gained double-award science with an A* to C grade. This is above the national average. Results in the National Curriculum assessments at the end of Key Stage 3 improved over the previous year and exceeded the national average for the proportion achieving Level 5 and above, and was close to the national average for those achieving Level 6 and above. Standards of achievement in lessons vary between teaching groups but are most often sound. In general, pupils are able to make accurate use of scientific ideas and words to describe their investigations, and they make careful and detailed recordings of their observations.

Improved access to information technology has helped to raise standards. Sound standards were evident in Key Stage 3; for instance, in a lesson in Year 8 where all pupils successfully learnt how to set up a database, sort and print. Information technology is sometimes used for redrafting in English but is not used widely across the curriculum. Set homeworks sometimes give pupils the option of using information technology. The club for information technology is very popular with pupils and provides a valuable opportunity for them to improve their work in other subjects, as well as their computer skills.

Behaviour in lessons is generally good. Pupils are attentive and listen to their teachers. They are willing learners and answer questions readily. Behaviour around the school is maintained at a satisfactory level through increased staff supervision. Staff supervision is vigilant but often good-humoured. Exclusions from school are low. In the past year there have been ten exclusions, only one of which was permanent.

Attendance is satisfactory. During the period from August 1999 to January 2000 the figure reached was almost 92 per cent. Unauthorised absence is very low. Punctuality to school is satisfactory but lessons do not always start on time, despite the allowance of movement time between lessons. Assemblies sometimes overrun, resulting in a loss of teaching time.

Quality of education

The quality of the teaching was satisfactory or better in nine out of ten lessons; it was good or very good in a third, and in a few lessons it was outstanding. In general lesson planning was good. Effective lessons were well structured, with clear learning objectives and a sense of purpose. Teachers introduced and summarised new learning effectively and maintained a brisk pace through well-timed interventions and appropriate questioning techniques.

Most teachers managed classroom behaviour well. In the less successful lessons, lesson planning was inadequate, pupils' behaviour was not properly contained, and the pace was slow.

All the English lessons were taught at least satisfactorily. Lessons are generally well planned, with clear learning objectives, and show improvement as a result of in-service training and monitoring by senior managers. A review of teaching by senior managers has let to targets being set for individual teachers and monitoring by the head of department. Departmental management has improved as a result of giving the head of department more time to monitor and evaluate the work of her team. An increased emphasis on a team approach has improved the frequency and quality of marking, although there is some way to go before assessment is sufficiently formative in English.

There is a new head of department in mathematics. She has made useful progress in rewriting the scheme of work for Key Stage 4 and introducing new arrangements for assessment, and is developing her role in monitoring standards and quality in the department. There is evidence that expectations are rising, underpinned by the use of cognitive-ability test scores to set targets. However, the department currently has two temporary teachers and one who is on long-term sick leave. Although some of the teaching in the department is good, there is too much that is unsatisfactory.

The quality of the teaching in science was never less than satisfactory; much of it was good. Lesson outcomes are clear and understood by the pupils. Pupils make good progress in those lessons in which terminology is correctly but sparingly used, explanations are clear, practical work is well linked to conceptual understanding and there is good use of relevant illustration. Tasks are usually well matched to the capabilities of the pupils. In the best lessons, pupils are encouraged to participate in discussion, express ideas in their own words, and make their own notes. The department operates effectively as a team; members have worked with commitment to extend the range of teaching approaches and activities employed in lessons.

Across all subjects, the pupils' progress was at least satisfactory in four out of five lessons. It was good in a quarter, but never better than that; even when the teaching was very good or excellent. Good progress was made in the lessons where teachers build systematically on the pupils' prior attainments and experiences, and had high expectations of what they could achieve.

The school provides a broad and balanced curriculum at both key stages. Following the inspection in August 1998 the school adopted the Lancashire Curriculum Policy as the basis of its curriculum philosophy. This provided a useful starting point, but the school has moved on and has reviewed and broadened curriculum provision in Key Stage 4 to include more vocational options for September 2000.

Developments in the collection and use of data to assess potential and to track attainment have been beneficial. Teachers are beginning to make use of the available information to inform their planning. However, the school lacks a consistent whole-school assessment policy, so the quality of formative and summative assessment is uneven within and between departments. In several subjects, helpful written feedback is provided on the quality of pupils' written work but this is not universal.

The level and quality of the provision for pupils who have special educational needs have improved but remain insufficient. The needs of pupils who have Statements of Special Educational Need are met, and progress has been made on revising documentation and providing information for departments. More classroom support is available. However, individual education plans are not yet in place for all pupils on Stage 2 of the national Code of Practice. There are pupils who should be on the register but who are omitted because no support would be available if they were included. The support for pupils who have special educational needs is spread too thinly and is inadequate.

The school sensibly decided to separate the management of special educational needs from that of ethnic-minority achievement. A conscious effort to employ more Asian-heritage members of staff has been made; this has had a positive impact on many of the pupils, especially the older boys.

Management and efficiency of the school

For the past year the school has had strong leadership. An experienced headteacher from another Lancashire school has been seconded full-time for an initial period of two years as the associate headteacher of Mansfield. He has a clear vision for the future direction of the school and communicates this clearly. He has a perceptive understanding of the school's strengths and weaknesses, and is providing firm and purposeful leadership to make good use of the former and remedy the latter. He has gained the respect of teachers, pupils and parents. Staff are appreciative of the unequivocal guidance which he offers, and staff morale has risen. The senior management team, which consists of two deputy headteachers and a senior pastoral tutor, is hard-working and conscientious; its members fulfil their allocated roles with energy and commitment, and provide good support for the associate headteacher.

The quality of subject leadership in the school is improving. Heads of department understand that they are to be held responsible for the work of others in their teams. They have begun to take on the monitoring role, through lesson observation, and by checking on matters such as the quality of marking and the quality of homework set. While the quality of departmental development plans remains variable, a systematic approach to planning has been established which can be built upon.

The governing body has been reorganised, with a clear committee structure, agreed terms of reference and a regular cycle of meetings. The involvement of governors is good and their work is clearly focused on raising standards and improving the quality of education provided. Governors have been fully involved in preparing, implementing and checking the progress of the school's action plan and development planning generally. The governing body's monitoring and evaluation policy covers finance, development planning, attendance and punctuality, exclusions, the curriculum, teaching quality, progress, attainment and buildings. The personnel responsible for producing and receiving reports are clearly defined and an annual calendar is published.

Strategic and financial planning is sound. Full delegation of funding was returned to the school from the beginning of January 2000. The school is effectively overcoming its long-term financial problems and provides satisfactory value for money.

Training opportunities for staff are good: there is an appropriate balance between meeting the requirements of the action plan, fulfilling individuals' training needs and planning for proposed future developments. There has been a strong emphasis on improving the quality of the teaching through the introduction and implementation of a whole-school teaching and learning policy. This initiative was well managed by senior staff and has been very effective.

The associate headteacher and the governing body are prepared to make tough decisions when necessary to ensure that the educational interests of the pupils are given the highest priority. The school will need the continual support of the LEA in the short-term to ensure that the good progress being made is sustained.

Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

The school's provision for pupils' spiritual development is satisfactorily promoted in assemblies and during the classroom act of collective worship which takes place on the days when pupils do not take part in a school assembly. The quality of the assemblies is variable; but the good ones include sufficient time for reflection. The provision for religious education has improved. The Key Stage 3 schemes of work have been revised and all pupils in Year 10 undertake a GCSE short course in religious education. Additional specialist staff have been appointed.

The school's code of conduct explicitly states the expectations of the school in relation to behaviour. It is posted in classrooms, and printed in the pupils' planners. The systems for applying rewards and sanctions are well known to the pupils. The behaviour in lessons is mostly good, and around the school it is satisfactory. Pupils know the difference between right and wrong and generally behave sensibly towards each other. Their relationships with teachers and other adults are satisfactory and sometimes good.

A broad range of extra curricular activities is offered by the school to extend social and cultural opportunities. These include sport, after-school and lunch-time clubs, school productions and visits to places of interest; for instance, field trips and other curriculum-related visits in English, art, music, science, and design and technology. There are educational and recreational visits abroad and other residential opportunities in this country.

The school is beginning to concentrate on extending opportunities for all pupils to learn about the richness and diversity of other cultures through the celebration of religious festivals, and by including the multicultural dimension in subjects such as art, music and religious education. This work is as yet at an early stage of development. There remains a specific need to encourage pupils from different backgrounds to collaborate and share a common purpose.

Older pupils are able to exercise responsibility through the prefect system, while pupils of all ages can take on leadership roles such as form captain or games captain.

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACTION PLAN

Key Issue 1: establish a management structure which will improve the decision process

The senior management structure of an associate headteacher, two deputy headteachers and a senior teacher with responsibility for pastoral matters is well established. A revised governing-body committee structure is in place. Both groups work well together and the school is now able to take better informed decisions. Progress on this key issue has been good.

Key Issue 2: improve development planning and include in plans the cost of all developments

Development planning has improved. A school policy and associated documentation provide clear guidance for staff. Departmental development plans were drawn up following the training of heads of department. The quality of these plans is inconsistent. Most plans are costed and the school allocated development funding for their implementation. Work began last term on a pastoral-care strategic plan which will be the basis for a section in the school plan from 2000 to 2001. Satisfactory progress has been made on this key issue.

Key Issue 3: strengthen monitoring and evaluation procedures across the school

A systematic programme of evaluating the documentation and teaching in all departments is being implemented by the senior management team. The strengths and weaknesses in the performance of all staff have been identified. Thorough, rigorous reports have been written on teaching in the science and English departments. Middle managers have been given additional time in which to observe lessons, and other teachers are encouraged to form partnerships to observe each other's lessons. Good progress has been made on this key issue.

Key Issue 4: establish systems to improve accountability and make effective use of available resources

The governors' finance committee has detailed terms of reference. Roles and tasks are clearly identified. Procedures are transparent so that all aspects of financial management are evident to all. This year the school is managing a budget deficit of 43,000 incurred for leasing arrangements in previous years. Responsible financial management is evident in a situation where prudence is required. Financial management is good. Good progress has been made on this key issue.

Key Issue 5: collect and analyse data and make use of it to monitor pupils' progress and inform planning

The systematic collection and distribution of relevant data is well established. Teachers are becoming more comfortable in using information and have a better understanding of how to set appropriate targets. A formal mentoring scheme for underachieving pupils in Key Stage 4 is operational. Progress on this key issue has been reasonable and is in line with the action plan.

Key Issue 6: improve the quality of teaching, in particular the pace and challenge in lessons, and disseminate existing good practice

A great deal of hard work by senior managers and staff generally has gone into improving the quality of the teaching. The introduction of a teaching and learning policy has been very important in establishing a consistency of approach. Improvements are evident in planning, the pace of delivery and in the use of time. Good progress has been made on this key issue.

Key Issue 7: review and evaluate the curriculum and grouping of pupils in the light of the removal of technology college status

The curriculum has now been fully revised and the timings of the school day adjusted. Pupils generally move promptly to lessons but when making long journeys across the campus they are sometimes late. The timings of the school day continue to be under review. Good progress has been made on this key issue.

Key Issue 8: fulfil statutory requirements where these are not met

The school has improved provision for pupils who have special educational needs. More classroom support is available; for instance, statemented and non-statemented pupils are supported in lessons by the special educational needs co-ordinator, whose timetable has become more flexible. A learning support assistant has been appointed. The special educational needs policy is in place and guidance for departments is provided through additional documentation. Statutory requirements for statemented pupils are met. Progress on this aspect of the key issue has been reasonable but more remains to be done to extend and improve provision for non-statemented pupils.

The introduction of a GCSE short course in religious education for all pupils in Year 10 not only ensures compliance with statutory requirements but provides an additional opportunity for external accreditation. A daily act of collective worship is provided through a combination of formal assemblies and acts of worship in tutorial time. There remains a need to monitor activities in the classroom to ensure that sufficient time is allowed for reflection. Overall, progress on this aspect of the key issue has been good.

 

 

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From the Ofsted Web Site at: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports/119/119718.htm