WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Quintin Kynaston secondary school in special measures after bombshell Ofsted report

Academy joins Harris Federation after being judged 'inadequate'

28 April, 2017 — By William McLennan

Quintin Kynaston headteacher Alex Atherton

THE findings of the government’s education inspectors were called into question this week after a Swiss Cottage secondary school once laud- ed as “outstanding” was judged to be failing pupils.

Ofsted, which visited Quintin Kynaston Academy in January, said that standards have slipped in nearly every area since their last visit in 2014 and are now “inadequate”.

The West End Extra understands many teachers feel the latest report does not reflect life at the school, where GCSE grades have been steadily improving in recent years.

As a result of the critical report the school has been placed in “special measures” by Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman, who was appointed by former Conservative education secretary Nicky Morgan last year.

On Friday, the school governors announced they would be joining the Harris Federation, a charity that runs 41 academies across London.

Chair of governors Patrick Lees said that they were “naturally disappointed” by the Ofsted findings and would be appealing “a range of aspects of the report”.

He added: “The school has worked hard to address many of the issues highlighted by inspectors and we feel that not all of those efforts have been given the credit they deserve.”

One headteacher of another school, who had read the report, said: “Ofsted is too inconsistent and political to be trusted any more,” adding that “QK don’t need Harris to improve them.”

The school has been through a tumultuous few years since it was judged “outstanding” in January 2012.

Jo Shuter, widely described as a “super-head” at the time, was credited with turning around its fortunes. She was at the centre of national media attention after auditors found she had misused school funds to pay for, among other things, thousands of pounds of personal taxi trips – including visits to top West End restaurants The Ivy and The Wolseley – and a luxury hotel stay for senior staff costing £8,000.

She was banned for life from teaching in 2014, but this was overruled earlier this year. She has since been given the go-ahead to return to the classroom.

Among areas criticised in the Ofsted report, inspectors highlighted students’ “disruptive behaviour”. They said “leaders have not secured a consistent and effective approach to tackling it”.

The West End Extra understands this is one of the key points that will be challenged by the school.

Westminster North MP Karen Buck said on a recent visit she was “genuinely impressed by the calm and sense of purpose in the school”.

Inspectors identified the school’s strengths, which included the sixth form and how outside agencies were involved when “specific concerns are identified about vulnerable pupils”.

But the report said Ms Spielman believes pupils are being failed, adding that “persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement”.

Mr Lees said the school would be “cooperating with the Department for Education to seek to join a multi-academy trust”.

Chief executive of the Harris Federation Sir Dan Moynihan said: “We look forward to working positively with teachers and leaders at Quintin Kynaston to build on its existing strengths and to ensure it retains its place as a popular and successful school for the community it serves.”

Headteacher Alex Atherton, who joined the school in 2014 and intends to remain at the helm, said he was “delighted that the school is joining the Harris Federation”.

The National Union of Teachers, which has strong representation at the school, has a long- standing policy of opposing forced academy con- versions. It has in the past criticised academy chains for “increasing the work- load of teachers without showing any corresponding improvement in out- comes for children”.

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