A PEMBROKESHIRE school has been placed under special measures by education inspection body Estyn.

The decision to put Greenhill School, Tenby in the most serious statutory category was taken after a follow-up visit by Estyn earlier this month.

This was to monitor the progress that the school had made since the last main inspection.

The report from the visit confirmed that a number of positive changes had been implemented at Greenhill, but it was felt that progress in improving outcomes has been too slow.

A ‘robust and fast-paced’ improvement plan will now be put in place in the school, said governors’ chair, Heulwen Lear.

In a letter to parents and carers today (Friday), she said: “We are all very disappointed by this decision, but accept and acknowledge that standards and performance are not good enough and that not enough progress has been made in improving these quickly enough.”

Inspectors from Estyn - Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales – will make another visit to Greenhill when the action plan is received.

They will then visit the school in four to six months’ time to monitor progress.

At the time of the last core inspection, six key areas were identified for improvement.

These included standards of pupils’ work in lessons, teaching quality, attendance and exclusions, and inconsistency in middle leadership across the school.

Following the recent visit, Estyn said there had been ‘insufficient improvement’ in the standards that pupils achieve.

“In general, the majority of pupils make suitable progress in developing their knowledge, skills and understanding. However, in a minority of instances, pupils make little or no progress in lessons,” said the report.

Inspectors added that a minority of pupils still had weak basic number skills, made frequent basic errors in written work and did not listen enough.

The report added: “Over the last five years, performance at key stage 4 (years 10 and 11) has fluctuated, but has generally been below expectations.

“In 2019, the school’s performance compares more poorly to similar schools than it did at the time of the core inspection.”

The school’s strategies to improve attendance and reduce fixed-term exclusions had proved successful and rates of persistent absence have more than halved since the core inspection and are below those in similar schools.

But negative attitudes to learning from some pupils were having a ‘detrimental impact’ on pupil progress, with a few demonstrating ‘immature and disrespectful behaviour, both in lessons and around the school.’

Although the school has been using a range of suitable approaches to improve the quality of teaching, there was still ‘insufficient overall improvement’ in its impact.

‘Significant’ changes to the school’s leadership have taken since the core inspection – including the appointment of new headteacher, Ray McGovern, two years ago.

An ethos of support and collaboration amongst staff has been successfully promoted by the senior team and the governing  body, which has boosted staff morale, and there is a well-organised calendar of self-evaluation activities.

However, the inspectors felt that improvement against the priorities had not been rapid enough.

Concluded governors’ chair Mrs Lear: “Given the progress that has already been made, the commitment of all staff and governors and the additional support being provided by the local authority, the governing body are confident that examination outcomes and standards will improve quickly, enabling Estyn to remove the school from special measures.”

Pembrokeshire County Council support has included a £60,000 Maths Improvement Grant, part of which is being used to employ a specialist higher level teaching assistant.

The authority’s cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, Guy Woodham, said he was disappointed to learn of the decision to place Ysgol Greenhill School in special measures.
Said Councillor Woodham: “I am particularly concerned in view of the high level of support that has been offered by the local authority since the previous core visit.
“It is clear that the school has not made the progress that might reasonably have been anticipated given the quality of that support.
“We will continue to work with the school to ensure that rapid progress is made.”

The full report of Estyn’s November visit can be found here  https://www.estyn.gov.wales/sites/www.estyn.gov.wales/files/documents/Monitoring%20Report%20The%20Greenhill%20School.pdf