Chase High School
Head Teacher: Mrs Victoria Overy
1121 pupils, Mixed
|Unique Reference Number||131146|
|Inspection dates||8–9 July 2009|
|Reporting inspector||John Mitcheson HMI|
This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.
|Type of school||Comprehensive|
|Age range of pupils||11–18|
|Gender of pupils||Mixed|
|Number on roll|
|Appropriate authority||The governing body|
|Chair||Mr Terry Tarff|
|Headteacher||Mrs Denise Allen|
|Date of previous school inspection||31 March 2009|
|School address||Prittlewell Chase|
|Telephone number||0844 477 3566|
|Fax number||0844 477 8907|
|Inspection dates||8–9 July 2009|
© Crown copyright 2009
The inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty's Inspectors and three additional inspectors.
Chase High School is a Fresh Start school. The majority of students from the predecessor school transferred into Years 8 to 11 in September 2006. It is a National Challenge school and is in the process of transferring to a National Challenge Trust School in partnership with another school and a university. It has undergone a significant building programme over the past two years and opened a sixth form in September 2008. The school serves students from Southend-on-Sea, an area with four selective grammar schools. The level of social deprivation is higher than that found nationally and the proportion of students eligible for free school meals is much higher than the national average. Over a quarter of students are from minority ethnic backgrounds, many of whom have English as a second language. The proportion of students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, mostly moderate learning difficulties, is significantly higher than the national average, although the percentage of students with a statement of special educational needs is broadly average. Attainment on entry is below average.
Overall effectiveness of the school
Chase High School provides its students with a satisfactory education. It has made steady progress since its fresh start, due to the clear-sighted and resolute leadership of the headteacher and her team of senior leaders. Their commitment to eradicate weaknesses, particularly in teaching and learning, is beginning to manifest itself in improved student progress and higher standards in some subjects, but not all. Collaborative arrangements to secure Trust Status have been slow to develop but recently, senior leaders have shown a greater commitment to partnership working, which is helping to build good capacity to improve further. The school is now in a stronger position and seeks to build on its recent achievements in order to secure improved and sustained outcomes for all students.
Senior leaders acknowledge that a significant proportion of students have underachieved in recent years due to inconsistencies in the quality of teaching and learning and a lack of rigour in monitoring their progress. Standards over the past two years have been well below the national average. The proportion of students achieving five or more GCSE grade Cs increased in 2008 but the percentage that achieved five or more including English and mathematics was below school predictions and minimum national targets. Decisive action taken to correct this is beginning to lead to improvements. There is now a corporate commitment from all staff to raise standards and ensure that students make sufficient progress. Current monitoring data shows that students are making progress satisfactorily and that a significantly higher proportion are on track to achieve what is expected of them this year. Senior leaders anticipate that over 50% will attain five or more GCSE C grades and 34% will do so including English and mathematics. These are aspirational targets but results already achieved by students this year provide encouraging evidence that standards are rising.
Intensive coaching for teachers and middle leaders, and routine lesson monitoring, have ensured that the overall quality of teaching and learning is satisfactory and is often good or better in half of all lessons. Less use is made of regular scrutiny of students' work to promote better consistency in marking and presentation across subjects. The school's policy of training their own teachers is paying dividends; inspectors observed a number of good lessons taught by relatively inexperienced teachers. Most teachers and managers show an improved understanding of assessment data and how it can be used to spot students at risk of under-achieving and those who need additional support. The curriculum offers students a satisfactory blend of GCSE and vocational courses. More than two hours of physical education each week and a range of extra curricular sport helps students to lead healthy, active lives. Drama, music, art and design are popular with students who especially enjoy the stunning new resources and accommodation. From September this year, some courses will change from GCSE to Business Technology Education Council (BTEC) or other vocational awards. These changes should contribute towards raising student achievement but will require close monitoring to ensure they become firmly established.
Students' personal development and well-being are satisfactory. All statutory safeguarding requirements are met and students say that school is a safe, healthy and enjoyable place to be. However, their attendance is below the national average and a delay in the appointment of an attendance officer to work in school and in the community, means that a small but significant minority of students remain persistently absent from school. Students adopt responsibilities as prefects and house captains and wear their Star Awards with pride. Exclusion rates have fallen significantly. Clear rewards and sanctions and improved grouping of students for tutorials is promoting greater personal responsibility and improving students' behaviour, which is satisfactory. The quality of care, guidance and support is satisfactory. The school is fully inclusive and committed to providing equal opportunities for an increasingly diverse body of students. Those who find learning difficult, or whose first language is not English, are regularly withdrawn from lessons so support staff can focus on basic skills and extending their learning. Most of them are well prepared for reintegration into lessons and go on to achieve as well as their peers. Academic guidance is less effective because procedures to track student progress against the targets set for them are not used consistently across all subjects.
Satisfactory leadership has steered the school through a difficult period of change. Thorough self-evaluation recognises the progress made but also reveals that there is more to do. Recent improvements, particularly to teaching and learning, have not yet led to improved student outcomes in all subjects. New senior leaders have been appointed to increase capacity and middle leaders are now far more accountable for standards and students' progress. Senior leaders from its partner school are already sharing their knowledge and experience, which is adding significantly to the school's capacity for improvement. Governors have a clear, strategic view of the school and have ensured that it provides satisfactory value for money. Community cohesion is good. Staff show a good understanding of the changing nature of the school; the many different backgrounds and languages that are now represented and the increasingly diverse community it serves. Students regularly engage with a number of community groups and established links with a school in Ghana help to increase their understanding of wider global issues. Only a very small proportion of parents responded to the inspection questionnaire. Most were generally supportive but some concerns were expressed about the variable use of homework and some parents would like more communication with their child's teachers.
Effectiveness of the sixth form
The small but effective sixth form provides students with a satisfactory education. A good curriculum meets the needs of all students. They pursue level two and three vocational courses that offer them suitable pathways to further study or employment. They have good opportunities for enrichment through organised sport, educational visits and visiting speakers. Attendance is satisfactory. Students help to support younger learners and volunteer for community service. The majority of them make satisfactory progress and achieve broadly average standards. This year, a significant number of Year 12 students have already achieved pass grades in art and design, business and sport. Students say they enjoy being in the sixth form. They speak highly of the individual care, guidance and support they receive from their teachers and tutors. They know their targets and what they need to do to achieve them. Teaching and learning are satisfactory. Small class sizes enable teachers to give students good individual support, but at times this limits the scope for debate and exchange of ideas. Facilities for students to study independently and to socialise are limited at present, but plans are in place to provide purpose-built sixth form accommodation in the near future.
A small proportion of the schools whose overall effectiveness is judged satisfactory but which have areas of underperformance will receive a monitoring visit by an Ofsted inspector before their next section 5 inspection.
Achievement and standards
Teachers' monitoring confirms that, based on their starting points, the majority of students are making satisfactory progress. Optional tests taken at the end of Key Stage 3 this year suggest that the percentage of Year 9 students attaining the expected level in English, mathematics and science, will exceed the previous year's results. A similar increase in the proportion of students attaining higher level six in maths and science is also predicted. In Key Stage 4, 39% of all Year 11 students entered for GCSE English earlier this year have already obtained at least a C grade, 37% of students have achieved at least a C grade in two out of three GCSE mathematics modules.These results are significantly higher than the previous year. Smaller numbers of students have achieved at least the equivalent of a C grade in vocational awards in media studies, business and sport. Girls tend to out-perform boys and current data suggests this will again be the case this year.
Personal development and well-being
Students' social, moral, spiritual and cultural development is good because the school actively promotes social skills and understanding of other cultures and beliefs. The majority of students behave themselves within and outside classrooms. They understand the sanctions for misbehaviour and respect the 'three to five' programme designed to avoid exclusion from school. Rewards are being used successfully to promote good behaviour and attitudes towards learning. Students are taught to be safe in school and told inspectors that they feel free from bullying. Community involvement and fund-raising are encouraged through an established and competitive house system. The high number of student exclusions in 2008 has been dramatically reduced this year. However, the school has had less success in reducing the proportion of students that are persistently absent, which remains too high.
Quality of provision
Teaching and learning
The success of a determined and rigorous campaign to improve the quality of teaching and learning has led to a significant increase in the proportion of good or better lessons; inadequate teaching has almost been eradicated. This has been achieved through a combination of support and challenge for those deemed ineffective or inexperienced. An innovative coaching programme has helped teachers to hone their skills and many talk positively about how they now focus on students' learning rather than 'standing at the front as performers'. The impact in lessons is seen in respectful two way relationships, hands on activities that capture students' interest and opportunities for them to review each others' work and suggest what could be done to improve it. This is not the case in all lessons but senior leaders know where the inconsistencies remain and which departments require further support and challenge. Teaching assistants support individual students well outside of lessons but are under used in classrooms.
Curriculum and other activities
All statutory requirements are met and are complemented by a satisfactory range of enrichment activities. The combination of GCSE and vocational courses, entry level awards in both key stages and alternative arrangements for a small number of students not suited to GCSE studies, meets the needs of most students. However, they do not yet have the opportunity to pursue basic literacy and numeracy awards in Key Stage 4 designed to secure their future economic well-being. A daily tutorial programme makes a satisfactory contribution to students' personal, social and health education, although there are some inconsistencies in the quality of delivery by tutors.
Care, guidance and support
The school's commitment to equality of opportunity for all students and its efforts to eliminate discrimination are good. Links with support agencies are strong and the school is the champion of vulnerable students. It makes good use of learning mentors and support assistants to help students who are struggling with their learning. As a result, students who find learning difficult, and those who have English as an additional language, make satisfactory progress. The school has dealt firmly and consistently with a small number of racist incidents, successfully including students in this process. Despite the school's efforts, improving attendance remains a top priority. The majority of students know what 'level' they are working at and understand their targets for improvement because teachers refer to them in everyday discussion about learning. Although teachers' marking is satisfactory, scrutiny of students' work by inspectors found that this lacks consistency and insufficient attention was paid to the quality of presentation of students' work.
Leadership and management
The determined actions of the headteacher and her senior staff have resolved many of the key weaknesses evident three years ago. She has won the confidence of students, teachers and the community, who appreciate the changes and improvements that have been made. The impact of this can be seen in improvements to the school environment, improved self-esteem of students and in the way they relate to one another and to their teachers. She has strengthened senior and middle leadership by challenging leaders to contribute more effectively to school improvement. Governors have increased their effectiveness in supporting and challenging school leaders. There has been some slippage in the timescales to secure Trust Status. This has restricted the rate of school improvement until recently. Governors and the headteacher recognise the need for improved partnership as the school enters the next phase of its development; agreements are in place to commence Trust Status in January 2010.
|Any complaints about the inspection or the report should be made following the procedures set out in the guidance 'Complaining about inspections', which is available from Ofsted's website: ofsted.gov.uk.|
|Key to judgements: grade 1 is outstanding, grade 2 good, grade 3 satisfactory, and grade 4 inadequate.||School Overall||16-19|
|How effective,efficient and inclusive is the provision of education,integrated care and any extended services in meeting the needs of learners?||3||3|
|Effective steps have been taken to promote improvement since the last inspection||Yes||NA|
|How well does the school work in partnership with others to promote learners' well-being?||3||3|
|The capacity to make any necessary improvements||2||2|
|How well do learners achieve?||3||3|
|The standards¹ reached by learners||3||3|
|How well learners make progress, taking account of any significant variations between groups of learners||3||3|
|How well learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities make progress||3|
|How good are the overall personal development and well-being of the learners?||3||3|
|The extent of learners' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development||2|
|The extent to which learners adopt healthy lifestyles||3|
|The extent to which learners adopt safe practices||2|
|The extent to which learners enjoy their education||3|
|The attendance of learners||3|
|The behaviour of learners||3|
|The extent to which learners make a positive contribution to the community||2|
|How well learners develop workplace and other skills that will contribute to their future economic well-being||3|
|How effective are teaching and learning in meeting the full range of learners' needs?||3||3|
|How well do the curriculum and other activities meet the range of needs and interests of learners?||3||2|
|How well are learners cared for, guided and supported?||3||3|
|How effective are leadership and management in raising achievement and supporting all learners?||3||3|
|How effectively leaders and managers at all levels set clear direction leading to improvement and promote high quality of care and education||3|
|How effectively leaders and managers use challenging targets to raise standards||3|
|The effectiveness of the school's self-evaluation||3||3|
|How well equality of opportunity is promoted and discrimination eliminated||2|
|How well does the school contribute to community cohesion?||2|
|How effectively and efficiently resources, including staff, are deployed to achieve value for money||3|
|The extent to which governors and other supervisory boards discharge their responsibilities||3|
|Do procedures for safeguarding learners meet current government requirements?||Yes||Yes|
|Does this school require special measures?||No|
|Does this school require a notice to improve?||No|
10 July 2009.
Inspection of Chase High School, Southend-on-Sea SS0 0RT.
Earlier this week, three other inspectors and I visited your school and found that it provides you with a satisfactory education. Thank you for helping us in lessons and for talking with us. We spent some time meeting with your teachers, the chair of governors and read letters from some parents. Throughout the inspection, most of you behaved well and you made the inspection team feel welcome. A special 'well done' to the group of students who met with one of the inspectors; you represented your school very well.
We were particularly impressed with the actions of your headteacher and her staff to move the school from its position of relative weakness three years ago, to its current one where most of you are now achieving satisfactorily and standards are beginning to rise. Chase High is an inclusive school; it does its best to meet the needs of all of you. It provides good care for you and helps those of you who need additional support so that you enjoy school life. We also noted that many of you in Key Stage 4 have already achieved good results in GCSE and BTEC examinations, so well done.
Although several improvements have recently been made to your school, the standards achieved are not as good as they could be so we have asked senior staff to make the following improvements:
Mrs Allen is making a big difference to your school. You can help her by attending regularly and letting your school council know your views on what further improvements could be made. Best wishes for the future.
Her Majesty's Inspector