Dorset school ‘turned around from special measures’ after becoming academy was good before takeover

Janet Downs's picture

Magna Academy. Poole, was judged outstanding in 2015 and would normally be exempt from further inspection unless concerns were raised.

But concerns were raised and Ofsted returned last December.

Inspection notes obtained by Schools Week show concerns about pupil movement at the academy had been raised with the Regional Schools Commissioner.  The local authority had in turn informed Ofsted.

The LA also said the local perception was that the academy didn't meet children’s needs.   The area’s child mental health service also had concerns about ‘inflexibility’ at Magna which has a national reputation for strictness.

Despite ‘exceptional’ pupil movement and having no qualified SENCO, Magna Academy kept its top rating.

I have also seen the notes.  One statement stood out.  It said the principal, Richard Tutt, was convinced ‘he has moved the school from 4-1 [inadequate to outstanding] via the approach to discipline and focus on consistently high expectations.   Focus on hard work and no excuses’.

But, as I wrote in 2015 under the headline ‘When history is rewritten, school myths obscure the truth’, the story about how Magna Academy rose from special measures to outstanding after being taken over by Aspirations Academies Trust in September 2013 was not true.  The predecessor school, Ashdown Technology College, had been upgraded to good in July 2013 when Ian Cox was head.

The Ofsted report for Ashdown Technology College is no longer on Ofsted’s website.  But the first inspection of Magna Academy in 2015 made it clear: when Magna’s ‘predecessor school, Ashdown Technology College, was last inspected by Ofsted it was judged to be good overall.

It’s not only Magna’s principal who appears to have a memory lapse.  Aspirations Academies Trust said pupil movement at the academy was ‘exactly what is expected during the first seven years of turning a school around from special measures’.

But the predecessor school had already turned around from special measures.  It was good.

And even Ofsted appears confused.  The inspection notes under the heading ‘context’, say:

‘2013 new school opened out of SM [Special Measures] prev(illegible) school.  Principal started then.’

But the predecessor school was not in special measures.  It was good.

How many times must this be repeated?  Magna Academy’s predecessor school, Ashdown Technology College, was not in special measures.  It was good. 


CORRECTION 8 June 08.53:  The first sentence was incomplete.  The missing three words at the end have been added.  Also a grammatical error has been corrected plus missing punctuation added.

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