School explores academy option as it takes steps to come out of special measures

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A primary school has explored the option of becoming an academy as it fights to be taken out of special measures.

Hawkes Farm Primary School, in Hailsham, was placed in special measures by Ofsted in November. Now there are hopes it will become part of the STEP Academy Trust, which runs seven academies in London and Croydon.

School leaders met with senior staff at the trust and, in a letter to parents on April 29, said they felt STEP had “the capacity to support the school to improve quickly and securely”.

Just over a week before the letter was sent, Hawkes Farm underwent a two-day Ofsted inspection, which found it had taken its first steps towards coming out of special measures.

In his report, published on May 13, inspector Clive Close said: “Having considered all the evidence, I am of the opinion that, at this time, leaders and managers are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.”

During the November inspection, “significant failures” were found in key aspects of the school’s work, including the management of teachers’ performance, which was described as “ineffective”.

Mr Close found that, since then, leaders had acted “with urgency” to address the areas identified as needing improvement. This included the introduction of new systems to monitor the quality of teaching and learning.

He added: “There are now clear lines of responsibility within the school’s leadership team and staff at all levels have accepted the challenge of moving the school forward at a rapid pace.”

Mr Close said teachers had felt “overwhelmed” with the changes at first but now said “most of the guidance and support they receive from leaders is helping them to provide better quality teaching”.

Hawkes Farm underwent several changes after being placed in special measures.

Former headteacher Valerie Cobb left at the end of January, having been on sick leave for several months. Her deputy, Michelle Burbidge, was appointed acting head in November. Chairman of governors Peter Coleman resigned and the governing body itself was replaced with an interim executive board.

Hawkes Farm was approached for comment but declined to do so.

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