Staff and pupils at a Chiltern Edge School that was at risk of closure are celebrating bouncing back after being rated ‘Good’ by school inspectors OFSTED.
The school, located in Reades Lane, Sonning Common almost closed in 2017 due to substantial failures, but it was saved after a campaign from the public. It serves pupils from Caversham, Emmer Green, Sonning Common, Henley-on-Thames, Shiplake and other nearby areas in both South Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
Previously, Chiltern Edge had been rated inadequate, with teachers criticised for having low expectations of pupils and leaders lambasted for ‘not effectively securing a high quality of education’.
Also, inspectors had found that pupils used inappropriate and homophobic language.
Chiltern Edge was saved in 2017 after the ‘Save Our Edge’ campaign voiced opposition to its closure, with the Maiden Erlegh Trust successfully converting the school into an academy in September 2018.
It received the ‘Good’ rating at its first inspection under the new regime.
Inspectors found that pupils felt very safe and were tolerant of others, and they were praised for working hard to meet the high standards teachers set.
The school was lauded for running a wide range of extracurricular activities that were judged as well attended by pupils.
To improve, inspectors said leaders and teachers should focus on improving the curriculum for a small number of subjects to ensure learning is implemented securely and consistently.
Headteacher Andy Hartley said: “I am so proud of our students, staff and the wider community.
“This report recognises that our aim is to give the very best education to all our students whatever their backgrounds.
“What pleases me most about this report is that it recognises how happy our students are, how well supported they are in making progress and enjoying school through our systems, curriculum, teaching and focus on the individual.
“To have achieved so much progress within the pandemic – despite the disruptions we have faced – says so much about the tenacity and determination of our staff to make a difference to the lives of our learning community.
“Finally, I would like to thank Maiden Erlegh Trust for the invaluable support they give the school, allowing us to focus purely on the wellbeing and education of our young people.”
The Trust is based in Maiden Erlegh School in Earley and runs six schools.
Chairman of Trustees Nick Jones said: “This is another excellent result for the Trust, which recognises the tremendous success of our hard-working staff and students of Chiltern Edge, and I pay tribute to their dedication and ambition in these challenging times; to deliver such an impressive and sustainable transformation in a relatively short time is remarkable.
“Thank you to Andy Hartley and his brilliant team, [the] students for their diligence and determination to grasp the opportunities now there for them all and thank you to Trust colleagues who have played such an important role in achieving this deserved outcome.”
Trust CEO Mary Davies added: “This outcome is thoroughly deserved and is a testament to the determination, resilience and hard work of staff and students alike. We always knew the school’s potential, and it should not be underestimated how impressive it is to climb two OFSTED grades in four years.
“Chiltern Edge is an excellent school, an ambitious school, and a kind and inclusive school. Well done, everyone.”
The OFSTED report was published in July following an inspection that was carried out by Paul Metcalf, Andrew Foster and Jane Cartwright in May.