Harrogate’s Rossett School still ‘requires improvement’, says Ofsted
Jan 20, 2023

Ofsted has said Rossett School in Harrogate ‘requires improvement’ in a critical report published today.

High staff turnover, disruptive pupils and extremely high absence rates among disadvantaged students are among the concerns highlighted by the government schools inspector.

The report, which followed a two-day visit on November 22 and 23, acknowledges that for the most part the 1,200-pupil school “is a warm, friendly and welcoming school”. It adds:

“Leaders, governors and staff are deeply committed to the pupils who attend the school. A strong determination to be inclusive and supportive permeates the school.”

But it adds a “notable minority of pupils do not behave well” and “sometimes disrupt the smooth running of the school”.

It then details further behaviour concerns:

“Most pupils who communicated with inspectors feel safe at school, but the conduct of the minority makes some pupils feel unsafe at times.

“Some pupils’ conduct out of lessons is variable, with overly boisterous behaviour. Some pupils ignore staff requests and instructions. Some staff do not apply the school’s behaviour policy consistently. A minority of pupils are regularly late to lessons, or have to be rounded up by leaders and escorted to class.”

Leaders, it said, were “taking action to improve the behaviour of the challenging minority of pupils” but “do not have an accurate picture of whether pupils are late, trying to avoid going to lessons, or both, and consequently this limits their ability to deal with the problem as sharply as required”.

‘Persistent absence’

Regarding attendance, the report said data showed that approaching half of all disadvantaged pupils were “persistently absent”.

The inspectors said leaders were following the school’s policy in attempting to improve this situation, but “it lacks the necessary drive and urgency to bring about the required step change in some pupils’ rate of attendance”.

The report said governors “do not have a fully accurate understanding of the school’s performance”, adding:

“They have a more positive view of behaviour than is the case. They have not been enabled by leaders to rigorously explore those aspects of pupils’ outcomes at key stage 4, which are less strong than others.”

The school, which is part of the Red Kite Alliance collaborative partnership of schools and a university across Yorkshire, was previously rated ‘requires improvement’ at its last full inspection in 2019. Today’s report said:

“Since the previous inspection, there has been a substantial turnover of staff, with 20 new staff joining the school in September 2022.”

The school was rated ‘good’ for quality of education, personal development and sixth-form provision and ‘requires improvement’ for behaviour and attitude, and leadership and management.

But the overall rating was ‘requires improvement’, which is worse than ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ but better than ‘inadequate’.

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‘We are incredibly disappointed’

The school issued the following statement by John Hesketh, chair of governors, in response to the report.

“We are incredibly disappointed by the overall judgment, particularly after being upgraded to ‘good’ in the areas of quality of education and personal development, as well as maintaining the ‘good’ rating for our sixth form provision.

“We are delighted with these improved gradings which recognise the progress we have made since our last inspection and reflect the hard work and commitment from our leaders and all our staff. We will continue to build on all our strengths as we strive for continuous improvement in everything we do.

“We immediately remedied some areas for improvement such as the management of sixth form absence, inconsistencies in school uniform, and the reporting process for staff should they have any concerns. We are reviewing all other areas for improvement and are currently formulating an Ofsted action plan.

“We are pleased the inspectors recognised many positives that reflect the strength of our education provision, our values and ambitions, and the commitment and support we provide to our students and their families.

“There is much to be proud of in the report. Inspectors highlighted our warm, welcoming atmosphere, the breadth and ambition of our curriculum, and the fact that our students move on to positive next steps in education, employment or training at the end of their time with us.

“We received praise for the good, polite behaviour of our students, the commitment of our leaders and governors, our effective safeguarding, and our strength in teaching inclusivity, tolerance and respect.

“We’d like to thank all of Rossett School’s leaders and staff, parents, carers and our whole school community who continue to support us to provide the very best education and positive outcomes for all our students.”