Rogate school's 'good' rating is a 'milestone'

The headteacher of Rogate Primary School has hailed its rating of ‘good’ this week by Ofsted as ‘an important milestone’ in the school’s improvement.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 3:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 4:31 pm
Rogate C of E Primary School celebrates a 'Good' Ofsted rating. October 2019

The school was put into ‘special measures’ by Ofsted in January 2016 and put under an academy order by the Department for Education.

In June 2017, the school moved up a grade to ‘requires improvement’, with ‘good’ in three of the five inspection areas and it became one of the first schools nationally to have its academy order rescinded when the governors agreed to form a partnership with Rake C of E Primary in the summer of 2018.

Now the primary school has achieved a ‘good’ rating in all aspects – even more impressively – as one of the first school’s in the country to be inspected under a new Ofsted framework.

Executive headteacher David Bertwistle said: “Given the turbulent time the school has been through I am delighted that the hard work and dedication of the whole class team has been rewarded.

“The staff and parents alike rose to the challenge of moving the school significantly forward and they have been very open to adopting what our partnership could bring – and to giving back more than we expected.

“I also want to pay tribute to the governors: they have been prepared to fight all the way, not only to keep their school open but to aim well above what looked possible and keep improving it.”

Ofsted reported that the all-important ‘quality of education’ was good and the report says: “The school’s motto of ‘excite, engage, empower’ underpins the whole curriculum.”

They said pupils were highly positive about the school and staff, respectful to adults, feel safe and respond well, and there is no bullying.

The inspectors recognised that the governors were ambitious for the school and that the leadership had high expectations and were well respected by parents.

They found parents overwhelmingly positive, with 100 per cent of them saying they would recommend the school to other parents.

Chair of governors Neil Ryder said the previous school leadership had addressed ‘core weaknesses’ successfully and the partnership with Rake school showed that by working together, small village primary schools could offer ‘much – if not much more – than larger schools’.

He said: “Small schools can indeed deliver the broad and balanced curriculum that Ofsted are now putting at the top of their priorities.

“The inspectors did what they call ‘deep dives’ into art and IT, as well as into the more traditional areas and said our pupils had plenty of opportunities to learn about the wider world and countless opportunities to perform locally in things like music and debating.”

The two schools have shared an executive headteacher and business manager, teacher planning and training, and other resources, in order to retain their individual village cultures but gain some of the advantages of bigger schools.

It comes as West Sussex County Council continues a consultation process into the future of some small rural schools, not including Rogate Primary, and their viability long-term.

Mr Bertwhistle added: “To me, this has been a fascinating lesson in how two and two can make five.

“By putting these schools together, we believe we are answering the questions about the viability of small schools: we can offer all the attractions of the village school but with the share staff and other resources of a bigger school.

“Now that Ofsted has given us one of the first ‘good’ ratings under their more demanding regime, we look forward to showing that we deserve it.”