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Primary school celebrates after being taken out of special measures
11:00am Monday 10th December 2012 in Echo News
STAFF and pupils are celebrating as their once-failing school came out of special measures after a turnaround in its fortunes over the past year.
The Willows Primary School, in Church Road, Basildon had been kept under close scrutiny by Ofsted since March 2011, but inspectors decided to pull it out of special measures after being sufficiently impressed by its improvement.
Headteacher David Bridge, who took over in January, said: “I’m absolutely delighted for the staff, children, and parents, because we’ve done it in a short period of time.
“We’ve tried to really improve the quality of teaching and to make sure everyone is pulling in the right direction.
“The atmosphere at the school has changed a lot since I first arrived and the children’s attitudes to learning has blossomed.”
Ofsted say that the school still requires improvement, but its ranking has improved being called inadequate in 2011.
The report states that boys do not do as well as girls, some pupils in Years 5 and 6 have fallen behind, and teachers need to improve their knowledge of maths.
But it also said that the school is rapidly improving, pupils behave well, the Willows’ leadership team is strong, and praised them for turning the school around.
The school, which has more than 450 pupils attend it, was one of several mooted by Essex County Council to become an academy along with several others in borough - both those that are struggling and others that are performing well - in a bid to improve standards.
The Echo revealed last month that the county council were looking at either a private business or an alliance of schools to take charge of a pool of schools in Basildon, with five in the borough under special measures.
But Mr Bridge said: “My main concern at the moment is getting the school to be ranked good or better as soon as possible.
“If the possibility of becoming an academy comes up in the future, I’m not saying yes, and I’m not saying no, but it has not been brought to my attention.”
The school came under fire after it emerged it spent more than £100,000 on agency supply staff from April 2011 to April 2012.
But Mr Bridge insisted that a lot of that cash was spent on teachers to do prevention work with small groups of pupils, as the school battled to come out of special measures.
He added that now the school was improving, there is less need to hire agency staff and expects figures on spend next year to be much lower.