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Stricter regime praised at under-attack Highbury Grove School

Pupils now led into lessons by teachers after breaks

13 October, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Highbury Grove

TOUGH new behaviour policies and new management at one of the borough’s best-known schools have hit the right note with inspectors, who say swift improvements have been made.

Pupils at Highbury Grove – which was hit by an “inadequate” Oftsed rating earlier this year – must now line up at the start of every day, at the end of break times and at lunch time. They are then led into lessons by teachers.

It follows an incident in September in which a 15-year-old pupil was sent home for wearing a bag which was not branded with a City of London logo. The school was taken out of local authority control earlier this year and taken over by City of London Academy Trust.

The shock inspection report in February saw the school tumble from “outstanding” to “inadequate”, the lowest rating.

The report then had said bullying and poor attendance were common, pupil progress was “significantly below” that made by pupils nationally, and that teachers and governors had an “overgenerous view of the quality of education they are providing”.

The new report notes that 34 staff joined the school in September to replace those who left following the previous inspection.

“New routines introduced this term to improve an orderly and punctual start to lessons are effective,” it added.

“Pupils line up at the start of the day, end of break and end of lunch and are led into lessons by their teachers. As a result, lessons start promptly for all pupils; records show that internal truancy is no longer a feature in the school.”

The report adds: “Pupils now move around the school calmly; communication between themselves and with teachers is respectful.”

High absence levels and late arrival to school by many pupils, however, “remain an area that requires urgent attention by school leaders”, inspectors noted.

During the inspection, it was discovered that some pupils did not have access to required medication. “Swift and urgent action by leaders ensured that the situation was corrected,” the report said.

Inspectors praised Clare Verga, executive principal at the school, for her introduction of new strategies “to ensure staff and pupils all have a common understanding of behaviour expectations”, with staff empowered by her “strong leadership” and “high-quality training”.

Ms Verga was appointed principal of City of London Academy Islington – formerly Islington Green – in 2012. It went on to become the 15th best school in the UK for student progress. She is now running both schools.

Chairman of City of London Academies Trust Andrew McMurtrie said: “We are naturally delighted with the Ofsted report. It is evidence that we are taking positive steps to help take the school out of special measures.”

The latest report is a monitoring exercise and no rating is given.

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