Tuesday 12 July 2022
St Sampson's High School has received a very disappointing external inspection report from Ofsted, however it stated the school's Principal has a clear understanding of the school's strengths, weaknesses and the priorities for improvement.
The school has been rated as 'inadequate' in the categories of The Quality of Education; Behaviour and Attitudes; and Leadership and Management. The school was rated as 'requires improvement' in the category of Personal Development and Welfare.
The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, the Education Office and the school's leaders acknowledge the inspection findings are unacceptable and are committed to ensuring all necessary steps are taken to support the school's Principal delivering the change needed.
School leaders will now be supported in their efforts, to build on what the inspection identified as strengths while urgently addressing areas of concern. In addition to the recent appointments of two new Deputy Headteachers and an Assistant Headteacher, there will be an Associate Assistant Headteacher who will provide additional capacity to the school's senior leadership team. Further, a new post will be created specifically to monitor - and where needed address - student behaviour.
Ofsted's report highlights that:
- The quality of education at the school is not good enough
- Pupils' behaviour around the school is poor, which sometimes goes unchecked because staff do not apply the behaviour policy consistently
- Students have little confidence that staff will put a stop to bullying when it is reported. As a result, many students do not feel safe in school
- Teachers' expectations of what pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities can achieve are too low
- Staff are not sufficiently skilled in subject curriculum design, behaviour management or approaches to supporting students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
The report also recognises some strengths in that:
- The school provides students with rich cultural and artistic experiences
- Students who find it difficult to read receive effective extra help
- Leaders' work to achieve the Rights Respecting Schools Award [silver] demonstrates that most students have strong moral and social awareness
- The school's Principal is determined to improve the quality of education and has a clear understanding of the school's strengths and weaknesses and the priorities for improvement
The new and rigorous external inspection agreement with Ofsted was put in place last year. St Sampson's High is the second school to be inspected following its introduction. The four inspection grading categories are Inadequate, Requires Improvement, Good and Excellent.
Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:
'The result of this external inspection is very disappointing to everyone involved in the delivery of education, but the need to objectively understand the strengths and weaknesses of all our schools is precisely why our Committee pressed ahead with what we knew was an urgent need for all of our schools to be independently and externally inspected.
'The St Sampson's High School community will I'm sure be concerned about the findings - as are we, but I want to take this opportunity to reassure that the report acknowledges that Mrs Godley has a clear understanding of what needs to change. Mrs Godley was very deliberately brought in to lead the school two years ago following the excellent job she did at La Mare de Carteret High School, with the goal of achieving similar improvements and cultural change at St Sampson's High. Cultural change for the better does not happen overnight, nor does a deterioration in standards. Ultimate accountability for the quality of our schools rests with the Committee, which is a constant despite changes in its membership over time. As the President of the Committee I apologise unreservedly to the students and families who have been let down as a result of a drop in standards and I commit to ensuring there is an immediate and marked improvement. Mrs Godley continues to have the Committee's full support as we know that she is the right leader to deliver the improvements needed, and it is to her credit that the Report recognises this. The changes that are needed are already well-underway and will be accelerated when Mrs Godley is supported by three new senior leaders who join the school in September, appointments that will help Mrs Godley's efforts to deliver continual improvement.
'Our Committee has recognised that there has been a lack of formal governance over our schools and this is something that will be addressed in the longer term as part of our ongoing work to introduce a new Education Law. As an interim measure, we have taken on the role of governors in a more active way than has been seen previously to ensure there is appropriate challenge and support in place for all school leaders.'
Vicky Godley, St Sampson's High School Principal, said:
'The report clearly shows that the school is not delivering at the level we all expect. I am truly sorry for that. But I am absolutely committed to doing everything necessary to address the range of concerns identified by Ofsted. I want to assure our students and their parents and carers that we know there is much work to do, we know and recognise the issues and we will work tirelessly to address them. From a personal perspective, I have been in a similar situation before when I joined La Mare High. The staff there pulled together, we developed a new culture and the whole community saw the benefits. I have no doubt the same can and will happen at St Sampson's. It takes time but we know we need to generate improvements urgently.'
Nick Hynes, Director of Education, said:
'An inspection report like this is nowhere near good enough for Guernsey or the young people at the school who deserve a good quality of education in a setting where everyone is nurtured. All of us, everyone involved in the delivery of education at St Sampson's High, need to take responsibility for it and ownership of the problems and the improvements needed. I have no doubt we will see a significant improvement over the next 12 months but parents and carers will understandably want answers so we will be offering them the opportunity to meet with us this week. It is clear to me from the report that the inspectors see the Principal as very much part of the solution to the challenges at the school and I wholeheartedly agree. Vicky was asked to take on this role two years ago because it was recognised she had the skills and experience to deliver the change needed. That very much remains the case. Ofsted will return to the school for a monitoring visit to check on progress within the coming academic year and I am confident that the changes that are being put in place will ensure that urgent improvements are seen.'
Liz Coffey, Executive Principal Secondary School Partnership, said:
'St Sampson's High School has started the journey of improvement as we recognised there were issues that needed to be addressed and the inspection report confirms that. Cultural change in any environment does not happen overnight; it takes time, commitment and focus but I have seen positive steps being taken and I know Vicky and her new leadership team will push hard to deliver the improvement that is needed. The report does highlight some of the positive initiatives and changes that have occurred since Vicky took over, but we're no way near there yet and it's important that all concerned acknowledge that and pull together to move things forward for the benefit of our young people.'
The full report can be read at Inspections - States of Guernsey (gov.gg)