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INADEQUATE JUDGMENT FOR MINEHEAD SCHOOL ‘DISAPPOINTING’ – CEO

Updated: Nov 29, 2023



Robert Lakin, CEO of multi academy trust, Beacon Education, has responded to Minehead Middle School’s (MMS’s) latest Ofsted judgment of ‘inadequate’ as ‘disappointing’.


The inspection took place over 24 and 25 January and is the first inspection at the school since September 2017 when it was rated ‘good’.


Mr Lakin, a former Ofsted inspector himself and an expert in school improvement, joined the Trust in September 2021 and has worked hard to implement a range of improvement measures since that time to help eradicate the impact of the poor leadership of the Trust at executive level over the previous five years. Commenting on the Ofsted report, he said:


“This is a very disappointing report, but one which is not without foundation. While the team of Ofsted inspectors did recognise the effort we have made to improve teaching and learning, the investment we have made in providing facilities for children with learning difficulties and the steps we have taken to improve behaviour and attendance and strengthen our board of trustees, it is too soon yet since the measures were implemented to see any noticeable improvements.


“We continue to address a range of issues, notably the low expectations of pupils and their negative attitudes to learning which were mentioned by inspectors, together with the difficulties surrounding the recruitment of high-quality, permanent teaching staff, which is a particular challenge in this part of the world.


“With four rounds of recruitment under our belt for a new head teacher at Minehead Middle School, we were still not able to make a permanent appointment, so we continue to operate with an interim head teacher. Mr Walker is doing a great job in spite of only being in post since November 2022.


“I am pleased therefore to share that following a national recruitment campaign, we have recently appointed a new Headteacher for September 2023. Further information will be released in due course but I should like to add that this is an excellent appointment that will build on the good works undertaken by Mr Walker and his team.”


There were several positives to take from the report particularly relating to safeguarding where the school’s arrangements were described as ‘effective’ and its standard of provision for its SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) pupils was mentioned favourably with inspectors commenting on its ‘broad curriculum’. They also said that ‘most pupils feel safe at school’ and ‘agree that there are supportive adults who help them with any concerns or worries.’


Inspectors also noted that ‘many pupils are polite and use social times sensibly.’


Mr Lakin continued: “In short, the findings support the many necessary changes that have already been made and we will redouble our efforts to bring long term improvements about. We still have a long journey ahead of us and ‘are we where we want to be?’ ‘No.’ ‘Will we get there?’ ‘Absolutely!’!


“Beacon Education is working in close collaboration with neighbouring schools and trusts to ensure the best provision possible is delivered. The Trust Board is in active discussions with the Department for Education (DfE) on aligning with a larger trust to provide greater teaching capacity and resource. This is much needed to drive the necessary reforms both at MMS but in the wider West Somerset region, which has suffered with under achievement for too long, sitting historically within an Opportunity Area and now within a Priority Education Investment Area.


“The Trust, the Diocese and DfE are all committed to delivering a high-quality education within the region, which is an entitlement for every child. Beacon Education is committed to reforming the legacy of underachievement and low aspiration prevalent within the region for too long and instead, delivering a transformative education which our students deserve.”


Chair of Academy Improvement Board and Trustee, Jill Ewen, said: “The outcomes of the report are hugely disappointing but plans are already in place to ensure progress is as rapid as possible. I know we have a committed and hard-working group of staff who only want the best for the young people who attend MMS. We have, with the appointment of a new headteacher in September and a new deputy headteacher already at the school, strengthened the stability of the leadership and they will continue the excellent work that has been started under the leadership of Mr Walker, our interim Headteacher.


“We look forward to reporting on the school’s successes in the future. I would like to thank all the staff and leaders of the school and Trust for the time and commitment they give to keeping our young people safe and supporting them in their development.”

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