Quick Links

Quick Links

Fulbrook School

8th March 2024: Ofsted and Multi Academy Trust News

We are very pleased to finally update you on two important processes that we have had to keep confidential to this point: news on our decision to join a Multi Academy Trust and news on our Ofsted Inspection.

 

Joining a Multi Academy Trust (MAT)

We want to start with this news because, of course, it is extremely exciting for the school, as well as for parents, students and the community, but also because it is what will define our future for the long term.

 

As most of you will know, we have been running a process to take us from our present arrangement as a Single Academy Trust to join a Multi Academy Trust. This is encouraged by the Department of Education for all schools. More importantly, it gives us the opportunity to be part of a local cluster of schools, tap into increased capacity and support, and secure our future for the long term.

 

After a thorough two-year process, we have selected Kingsbridge Educational Trust (KET) , who have, in turn, welcomed our decision. To be clear at this stage, this is a proposal and agreement with KET. Joining their MAT will not be formalised, until it is ratified through a thorough process, including a consultation with all of you as local stakeholders and approval is given by the Department of Education. We are confident we have made the right selection and are aiming to complete the process as close to the start of next academic year (September 2024) as possible.

 

The Trust fits all the aims of our search: to retain our local autonomy, with our commitment and values at the heart of the local community, while joining a network of truly excellent schools within the Trust, that span Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire. This will enable us to access the capacity and support, to develop our offer as an extended secondary school.

 

We are particularly excited that we will be collaborating with two other secondary schools – Oakgrove and Kents Hill Park – in the MAT. Sharing support and accessing their expertise and capacity (not least in GCSE experience) has already begun. It also naturally links Fulbrook to local and high-calibre sixth form opportunities.

 

Access to centralised resources to support developments, including staffing and recruitment, SEND provision and the management of finance and estates, will also be a hugely beneficial to our expanding offer here at Fulbrook.

 

We hope you feel as excited as we are. We shall keep you informed at every step of the way.

 

Ofsted Outcome

Many of you may have been wondering why there has been a delay in news of Ofsted’s inspection of the school. This has been because we challenged both the process and outcome, which therefore delayed the publication of the report.

 

The inspection took place in October – almost five months ago. The overall judgement is ‘requires improvement’. In the four key judgements they rated ‘Leadership and Management’ as ‘good’, and the other three as ‘requires improvement’.

 

The main points we raised with Ofsted were:

1. The inspection should not have taken place at this time, when we were in the midst of a total transformation, becoming an extended secondary school, at the beginning of a new school year, with new cohorts in Years 9 and 10, new buildings, new subjects being delivered and a new staffing structure. Effectively, Fulbrook is, to all intents and purposes, a new school. We feel this should have been recognised and we should have been given a reasonable amount of time to establish and embed our new policies, procedures and curriculum. A new school is usually given three years’ dispensation. We feel it is not appropriate to use the same framework and criteria as those which are used for a fully established school.

 

2. The inspection did not take into account the unique context of our school, nor the ever-changing demands placed on us by Central Bedfordshire – all of which we have fully embraced.

 

While we are disappointed with the judgement, we want to be clear that we do not shy away from the findings of the report.

 

We recognise and are pleased to see what they rate very highly in the school:

- the governance, leadership and management

- that Fulbrook is ‘a close and supportive community [where] pupils enjoy school and attend regularly. They have positive relationships with staff. Pupils are safe.’

- that significant improvements have been made in each area identified during the previous inspection of June 2022

- that Fulbrook is putting the students at the heart of everything we do

 

We are also acutely aware that there are areas which remain on a journey of development, where we there is still more work to do:

1. Personal Development

2. Curriculum

3. Special Education Needs (SEND)

4. Behaviour

 

Inspectors acknowledged that all of these have made progress, under a time of huge change for the school, but there is more to do. For example:

- We have reviewed and relaunched our school values, and we are working hard with students to embed them and our ethos through assemblies, personal development lessons and a weekly Fulbrook Focus.

- They note the reduction in incidents of misbehaviour and, in this period of transition from middle to secondary, our policies that have been amended and adapted to reflect the age range of the school. Since the inspection we have continued to develop our policies and procedures; our pastoral team has grown and we have recently recruited a new Assistant Head Teacher for Behaviour and Culture, who will be joining the Fulbrook team after Easter.

- The new primary curriculum had only been introduced six weeks prior to the inspection. This is a real area of strength in our school. We are now building on the fantastic work that is already happening in all secondary subject areas, including those that are new to the school and students; Subject Leaders are working with examination boards and subject teams in other schools. The collaboration with the new MAT will enhance this further, of course.

- Since the inspection, the learning support team has grown and we continue to recruit to this area. We have dedicated staff training sessions on supporting students with SEND and increased opportunities for parents to work with staff to support their child.

 

Ofsted itself describes an inspection as a ‘point-in-time’ judgement about the quality of a school’s education provision. It is reassuring that they can see the progress we are making in every area since their last inspection. While we are disappointed with the two-word rating, we are determined to continue our progress towards becoming a newly developed, innovative, values-driven and high-performing school, at the heart of our local community.

 

If you have any specific questions about the inspection report, or our proposal to join the Kingsbridge Educational Trust MAT, please contact us via our dedicated Parent Forum email address: parentforum@fulbrook.school

 

In light of these updates, we hope you agree with us that Fulbrook is developing into the extended secondary school that our local area deserves. We believe that Fulbrook is a great school, with a great future ahead. We look forward with eager anticipation to the completion of the new buildings, before the end of the school year, and to being a fully extended secondary school (with year groups 5 through to 11), as part of a high-performing, well-respected and established Multi Academy Trust, from September 2024. We appreciate the kindness and patience you have shown while we have been going through this lengthy process. Thank you for your continued support.

 

Please use the following links to access information about KET and our Ofsted Report.

 

With best wishes,

 

 

Samantha Clancy, Head Teacher

Philip Mardon, Chair of Governors