Rapid recovery for 'failing' St Albans School

PUBLISHED: 13:49 26 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:11 06 May 2010

Francis Bacon Head Jacqui Verrall celebrats the good news with some the school's pupils

Francis Bacon Head Jacqui Verrall celebrats the good news with some the school's pupils

THE school in the middle of this year s secondary transfer row has come out of special measures in record time. The latest in a series of monitoring visits last week by Ofsted – the Office for Standards in Education – resulted in Francis Bacon School in D

THE school in the middle of this year's secondary transfer row has come out of special measures in record time.

The latest in a series of monitoring visits last week by Ofsted - the Office for Standards in Education - resulted in Francis Bacon School in Drakes Drive, St Albans, having its special measures status lifted.

Delighted head Jacqui Verrall said this week: "We are ecstatic. The staff worked so hard and we are so proud of the students."

Francis Bacon went into special measures last July because Ofsted felt it was failing to give its students an acceptable standard of education.

It was critical of the governing body and concerned that at certain stages including GCSE, exam results were below expectations.

Ms Verrall said that at the last monitoring visit, Ofsted was impressed by a lot of the changes at the school. She went on: "Most schools come out of special measures after six monitoring visits but we have come out after three."

She went on: "Our governors are now outstanding, teaching and learning is good and we have good pastoral care and a good curriculum at Key Stages Three, Four and Five."

Sixty per cent of lessons which were observed were found to be outstanding or good - "It is lovely to see so many outstanding lessons" she said.

Results

Exam results were graded overall as satisfactory but Ms Verrall pointed out that they were based on last year's grades and there was every reason to think that the Year 11s could expect much more positive results.

She also thanked Beaumont and Sandringham Schools for their support during the period Francis Bacon was in special measures and said that strong links had been forged with the two schools which would be continued.

The students, many of whom were interviewed at random by Ofsted in the course of monitoring, were told the good news on Friday. Ms Verrall added: "They had a major role to play as well."

Francis Bacon has been at the centre of this year's secondary transfer row because many children had been given places there even though it was not one of their preferred options - including nine in Wheathampstead despite the distance to the Drakes Drive school.

Ms Verrall commented: "Hopefully it will make parents think that we are a school they should be considering."

l The county council has confirmed to St Albans MP Anne Main that during the summer it will be looking at several issues surrounding secondary transfer, including the impact of straight-line distance measurements to a preferred school and a two-tier sibling rule for admissions.

Mrs Main was due to meet new Under-Secretary of State for Schools and Learners, Diana Johnson, about the secondary transfer issue yesterday afternoon together with John Harris, head of children, schools and families, and St Albans council's chief executive Daniel Goodwin.


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