Shocked by this Ofsted Report

Janet Lallysmith's picture
A poster on the AAA website drew my attention to this Ofsted report from Charter Academy, Portsmouth which the sponsor ARK tweeted about before it was published. This school was given an overall 'good' judgement. I have no idea what the school is like, but the data on the DFE performance tables doesn't seem to fulfil their own criteria to be 'satisfactory' let alone 'good' in terms of the floor targets and expected progress in English and Maths.

Charter Academy

A 'good' seems an extraordinary judgement for a school performing in this way - and I think it's fair to say that Charter Community School wouldn't have received the same judgement from Ofsted.
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Ricky-Tarr's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 09:47

I can't see your problem here, Janet Lallysmith.

Charter exceeds the government's floor target by 4 points.

Charter became an academy in September 2009 when ARK took over the then failing St Luke's, so the latest results are for a cohort that has spent only two years under the new management. In its last year under the old regime, St Luke's had only 22% of pupils meeting the headline 5 X GCSE/equivalent including Maths & English. By 2011, that had risen to 39%. That shows a strong improvement.

Not only that, but Charter in 2011 showed 79% of students making expected progress in English, which is comfortably above the national average (72%).

There is still work to be done - particularly in securing progress in Maths but it is interesting to note that 100% of high attainers made expected progress in both E & M, showing that they have been building a strong top set - something vital to securing the school's reputation and ability to ensure a comprehensive entry in the longer term.

The latest Ofsted report says:

This is a good school which is improving strongly. It is not yet outstanding because the leadership of teaching, while good overall, is not effective enough in all subjects to ensure the majority of lessons are of outstanding quality.

That suggests that the teaching is not merely scraping into the 'good' category, but well on its way towards being outstanding.

This is clearly a success story. Why are you complaining?

Ofsted adds:

Parents and carers note the good progress made by their children and welcome the change in the academy since it opened.

Ricky-Tarr's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 09:59

.... oh, and on your Community School point -

The nearby Miltoncross Community School (which enjoys a somewhat better prior attainment profile) had markedly worse results than Charter in 2011 and failed to reach the floor standard.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 10:26

There is always a danger in judging schools merely by their raw results. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warn against the undue emphasis on exam results in England in their Economic Survey of the UK 2011 (not available freely on line). It's possible to be a good school, even outstanding, and still have poor exam results. The Education Endowment Foundation found that many below-floor schools were nevertheless outstanding.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies found that a school's achievement is frequently governed by its intake. In the case of Charter, the intake is skewed towards the bottom end making it more like a secondary modern than a comprehensive.

Charter was established in 2009 and most of the pupils transferred from the predecessor school. That means that the 2011 GCSE cohort would have spent most of their time at the predecessor school - this suggests that improvement was already under way.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 12:51

"That suggests that the teaching is not merely scraping into the ‘good’ category, but well on its way towards being outstanding."

*Giggles* You still think Ofsted lesson rating are objective rather than predetermined Ricky? Clearly you are not an experienced teacher yet. Far to many of us have taught the same 'Ofsted outstanding' lessons in different inspection contexts and watch the contrasting judgements to believe that.

Then, of course, you could ask the heads what actually happens. I'm sure ASCL or the NAHT would help you there.

Kevin Campbell's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 15:12

Why is it that so many of these types of academies can make a dramatic improvement in GCSE Englsh but fail to translate these skills in to other subject areas?

I would guess that there is very little difference between the last set of St Luke's 5 A*-C (with English, Maths and no GCSE equivalents) results and that of Charter Academy's.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 17:38

Is Henry still around? Any chance he could be persuaded to do an analysis?

Samuel Morris's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 19:48

Ofsted is an arm of the DfE. It lost its 'independence' during the Labour years, and has been taken further into the politics of the secretary of state since May 2010.

There is no more to it than that.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 19:58

Indeed Samuel. While the virtually all inspectors and regulators were bound to the Hampton principles of inspection and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act (2006) by October 2009 Ofsted retained an exemption from being obliged to any of these restraints to ther behaviour and remain instead only accountable to the SoS for Education.

Why they heck we let them get away with this scandalous situation? In my experience of trying to disucss things with Ofsted they seem to have a huge smoke screen set up to convince people that this status quo is somehow in the benefit of education!!! and is necessary (which is clearly isn't if you look at what our other inspectors and regulators do). It wouldn't surprise me at all if they sell that story to politcians too but I'm interested to hear what others think.

Kevin Campbell's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 21:08

Interesting point, and also:
Miltoncross' 5 A*-C with English, Maths and no equivalents is almost twice as good
Miltoncross has twice as many students
Miltoncross enters its lower and middle ability students for twice as many GCSEs
Miltoncross has a teacher staff ratio of 1 to 18, Charter's is 1 to 8.5
Miltoncross has a much lower average cost per teacher
Miltoncross has a much percentage of students entered for Ebacc subject
Average grades are about the same in each institute

Why is it that Charter Academy is only really performing in GCSE English?

andy's picture
Wed, 30/05/2012 - 10:32


ESL 5.0%18.6%
FSM 17.0%41.9%

KS4 No 200 89

5 x E&M 32% 39%
5 x A*-C 68% 64%
5 x A-G 96% 85%
1 Qual 99% 100%

Expected Progress
Eng 61% 79%
Maths 32% 48%

Best 8
VA 973.7 971.8

National AvgBetter Worse

Cohort Profile
Low Attainers 23% 41%
Middle Attainers 56% 50%
High Attainers 21% 9%

A comparison of these indicators may afford some insight into the respective Ofsted report findings. It also makes it clearer as to the level of challenge faced by each school.

Local context is also noteworthy. Milton Cross draws from a relatively better socio-economic profile than the Charter Academy (formerly St Luke’s). To use that awful terminology the latter has always been sink school and the former was a new build in the 1999/2001 era. The LA hoped it would emulate the success enjoyed by its first new build venture in the Admiral Lord Nelson School.

The 2011 Ofsted report for Milton Cross indicates that a, if not the, key indicator Pupil Attainment as adjudged ‘Inadequate’, which formerly would have triggered a minimum notice to improve (i.e. under the limiting judgements regime). Notwithstanding the good features under the new Ofsted regime (from Jan 12) this would almost certainly have triggered notice to improve if not special measures and/or a forced academisation.

The 2011 monitoring visit and May 2012 full inspection report taken together or individually make chalk and cheese reading to that of Milton Cross. The former report makes it clear that shortly after opening there was significant staff churn and fairly explicitly implies that this underpins the strength of the improvement.

There are clear differences between the comments relating to Leadership and Management, which is a manifestly important area for any school.

For both schools there is the usual disparity between progress in English and Maths. Indeed, trawling through Ofsted reports published over the last month and correlating their comments/judgements/findings with the DFE performance tables, it supports the overview that Maths is the sticking point for many schools. Followed by turning the %ages of pupils making expected progress in E&M into attainment at A*-C.

andy's picture
Wed, 30/05/2012 - 10:34

Apologies for the jumble of data. I did go through and sort it before submitting it but it still got messed up. The first set of figures refer to Milton Cross and the second Charter Academy.

Kevin Campbell's picture
Wed, 30/05/2012 - 17:49

Given the Charter Academy's data and OFSTED report it certainly should not be described as being good. Perhaps an 'improving' academy would be a more appropriate description.

Why is it that so many of these forced academies are able to drive up the A*-C grades in GCSE English?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 30/05/2012 - 18:37

Charter Academy's data looks okay to me.

My concern about this data would be the 15% not getting 5 A*-G. But given that this is only 13 students it would be perfectly possible to inspect their profiles as individuals and quite likely that an inspector could be reassured that there is no reason for concern.

CAs data only looks dubious if you assume students from challenging backgrounds should achieve the same results as students from privileged backgrounds as Michael Gove keeps preaching.

andy's picture
Wed, 30/05/2012 - 19:02

Kevin: There is no absolute reason for the English progression. All schools have a focus on E&M and while it true to say that finding E&M specialists is not easy the last + years has demonstrated that is increasingly difficult to find good Maths teachers.

"Given the Charter Academy’s data and OFSTED report it certainly should not be described as being good. Perhaps an ‘improving’ academy would be a more appropriate description."

The big caveat is that I am not an Ofsted Inspector and had no part in the CA inspection but key data in assisting you in gleaning an answer to the 'good' is:

Cohort Profile MC CA
Low Attainers 23% 41%
Middle Attainers 56% 50%
High Attainers 21% 9%
SEN 12.2% 15.5%
ESL 5.0% 18.6%
FSM 17.0% 41.9%

CA has getting on for twice as many Low Attainers, close on par for Middle Attainers but close on 2/3s less High Attainers.

When drilling down further into the other profile factors CA is markedly worse off than MC for English as a Second Language and FSM.

CA attendance is significantly worse that MC.

Despite all these negative comparisons on key stats CA out performs on E&M in terms of both A*-C and students making expected progress.

Despite the hype involved EBacc is not (yet) an official Ofsted benchmark measurement.

The one area that is a cause for concern could be the 5 x A*-G but, and as has been indicated, this could have been adequate explained during the inspection because of the low actual numbers involved (e.g. 15% of 89 is not as damaging as 15% of 200).

Very unhappy parent's picture
Sun, 09/02/2014 - 15:41

This school is shocking - I would like to make a formal complaint to Ofsted regarding them can anyone advise the process please?

Very unhappy parent's picture
Sun, 09/02/2014 - 15:42

Can I also add they carried out x2 illegal exclusions.

Andy V's picture
Mon, 10/02/2014 - 18:48

It is my understanding that because it is an academy you need to start by requesting a copy of the complaints policy for the academy. Then lodge a formal complaint to the Principal. If you remain dissatisfied then you complain to the sponsor, ARK. If they can't adequately address your then you can go to Ofsted.

Parent needing support's picture
Tue, 14/10/2014 - 21:34

I would very much like to speak to you and any other parents who have experienced the bullying behaviour that this school seems to think is acceptable.

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