Behaviour and truancy concern as Outwood Academy City Fields loses its 'outstanding' Ofsted grade

A school has slipped from its 'outstanding' Ofsted rating following a recent visit by inspectors, who raised concerns about the conduct and attendance levels of some pupils.

Once regarded as a shining example of a successful school, Outwood Academy City Fields has now been downgraded to an overall 'good' rating after the two-day inspection from the education watchdog.

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In a bigger blow, one of the four key areas concerned with behaviour and attitudes, is now deemed to 'require improvement'.

Ofsted inspectors have given their verdict on Outwood Academy City Fields.

The inspectors said: "A minority of pupils do not match the school’s expectations of good standards of behaviour.

"These pupils disrupt lessons and cause frustration for the majority of pupils who conduct themselves as asked and want to get on. Leaders are working hard to improve the behaviour of this minority.

"Many pupils behave well, showing respect for each other and the staff. These pupils conduct themselves well in class and around the school.

"However, the behaviour of a substantial minority of pupils is not good, with disruption of lessons and disrespect towards staff not uncommon.

"Leaders are working hard with this group of pupils to improve their behaviour, although the rates of exclusion and internal isolation of these pupils are high.

"However, there are signs that the use of exclusion and internal isolation is beginning to fall as a consequence of leaders’ actions.

"Similarly, the attendance of some pupils is not good enough. Leaders are acting with tenacity to improve this situation, with some positive results in individual cases.

"The school needs the support of the parents and carers of those pupils whose attendance is not good enough."

However, in the other key areas, including the quality of education, personal development and leadership and management, the Warmfield View school was handed praise.

The inspectors said: "The school is well led, with strong support from the trust. Leaders are determinedly ambitious for pupils.

"The curriculum is organised in such a way as to encourage pupils to aim high and achieve highly. Most pupils behave well most of the time towards each other, their staff and visitors.

"Pupils feel safe in school, and inspectors agree that this is the case. Bullying is not seen as an issue by most of the pupils who spoke to inspectors.

"Teachers have strong subject knowledge, and present new learning with clarity. They are effective in checking that pupils have understood."

The school was given its outstanding mark in 2013 a year after it was converted into an academy.

All key areas were awarded the top mark, a rare feat in Ofsted inspections.

Its success meant it was exempt from routine Ofsted inspections, resulting in a nine-year gap between visits.

A spokesperson for Outwood Grange Academies Trust said the trust was asked to take on six schools from the failing Wakefield Cities Academies Trust, including City Fields, which joined the new trust in 2018.

They said: "Unfortunately, at this point it was clear that there were some serious issues in the school which meant that it was no longer outstanding, or even a good school, and many students were being let down.

"However, we are extremely proud of the staff, students and community who have worked tirelessly to improve standards since then and to secure a Good judgement from Ofsted under a new, tougher framework.

"We know that managing through, and then returning from, the Covid pandemic has hit schools hard and many children have struggled to return to the routine and expectations of school.

"Outwood Academy City Fields is determined to continue on its journey of improvement and is looking forward to the exciting building plans with Wakefield Council which have asked to extend the school in order to meet demands for places."

This article was first published by the Wakefield Express.