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Parents’ fears for Swanmore College of Technology
CONCERNED parents of pupils at a Hampshire school are calling for urgent action after Ofsted inspectors labelled it satisfactory'.
Members of "Standing Up for Swanmore" say they are worried about sliding academic standards, pupils' lack of progress, and staffing problems.
But Swanmore College of Technology's headteacher Annette Hillier said that the "satisfactory" grade - Ofsted's third lowest out of four possible marks - was due to "a blip".
She said: "We can always improve and do better but we have faced some extreme challenges over the past couple of years."
Mrs Hillier, who has been at the helm for the last 18 years at the 1,303-pupil school, said the main problem had been staffing issues due to 14 teachers taking maternity leave in 27 months and teachers retiring from key positions. The school's score for pupil progress was also found to be below average despite a higher than average number of gifted and talented pupils.
Mrs Hillier said the score was lower than average because it did not include pupils taking vocational courses at local colleges.
She said the school, where leadership and management were found to be satisfactory, was now focusing on improving lessons as well as pupils' assessment and achievement.
"We are confident that our sense of purpose, clarity about improvements and commitment to the pupils will address all issues raised," she said.
"The report recognises that we have established a clear and appropriate direction for improvement and that we are now well placed to make progress."
In a statement the Standing up For Swanmore Group, launched at the beginning of the year at a meeting attended by 112 people, said: "We are saddened but not in the least surprised about the contents of this report, which we feel vindicates what we have been saying over the past six months.
"This report has confirmed our worst fears about what is happening to our children's school. These are fears which we as a group have been trying to draw to the attention of the authorities since January and which many parents have been concerned about for much longer than that."
The schools latest "satisfactory" Ofsted inspection comes after it was described as a "very good" and "very effective" school in 2004.
Swanmore's former pupils include Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden.