MILLTHORPE School has been asked to improve the progress and support given to disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs and disabilities.

In a letter to executive head teacher Trevor Burton, Ofsted has asked the school to make improvements to the progress of disadvantaged and SEND (special educational needs and disability) students and to improve their levels of attendance and higher rates of exclusion.

As reported in The Press earlier this week, Millthorpe had announced that it had been judged to be good by Ofsted in the first inspection since the school became an academy within the South Bank Trust in April 2016.

The letter states that the progress of disadvantaged and SEND pupils had fallen behind national performance.

Ofsted’s Barry Found wrote: “The focus on these pupils is now a priority and signs of improvement are evident...However more improvement is required across all year groups and all subjects, to ensure that those disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND, who are not meeting expectations, are both challenged and effectively supported, so that they make better progress.”

The letter states that levels of exclusion and absence for pupils in this group are too high and further work should be done.

On the whole, the inspection report - which is due to be published today - is positive, with inspectors praising the school governors and leadership. Feedback from parents was overwhelmingly positive, the report notes, and safeguarding is effective.“Without exception, pupils were found to have positive attitudes to their learning in lessons,” the letter states.

When it announced the good rating earlier this week, Millthorpe’s chairman of governors, Bill Schofield, said: “We are glad that inspectors recognised the significant improvement in our 2018 results and the impact our focus on learning conduct has had. We are proud that inspectors noticed that not once was there disruption in lessons during their visit and that pupils’ attitude to learning was so positive.”

Millthorpe School’s Head of School, Gemma Greenhalgh, said: “Focusing on pupils who are disadvantaged and those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) is an absolute priority for Millthorpe School. There is a significant gap nationally between the performance of these two groups of students and other students. We fully endorse the national focus on improving the outcomes for these groups of students and understand that schools across the country also have a key role to play. At Millthorpe, we are proud of how we have supported and developed such students over the years, but we are not complacent and are always seeking improvements. This is something that we had already identified as a key priority before the inspection.

“Improvements are already being made as the recent Ofsted report states: “...signs of improvement are evident, particularly in the older year groups, and in the provisional results for those pupils in Year 11 who left the school in 2018.”, and that, in relation to exclusions Millthorpe School has “applied a range of strategies to combat this trend with some success and have made some improvements”. These improvement strategies have been in place since 2017.

“Millthorpe School has a low level of exclusions when compared to schools locally or to the national average. Students with identified social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (this group of students is included in the SEND category) are excluded more often than other students. However, when compared to other schools, Millthorpe keeps these students in a mainstream setting successfully, rather than removing them to alternative provision. Currently Millthorpe School has taken substantially more ‘hard to place’ students from other schools than any other school in the city.

“In addition to this, many parents and carers choose Millthorpe because of our reputation for supporting SEND students with complex learning needs through a range of tried, tested and well-resourced interventions. This includes a growing number of parents and carers from outside our catchment area. Our regular feedback from parents and carers tells us that they are pleased with what we do and the support we offer.

“The report commends us on the tenacious work of our attendance team and the work we are doing to engage parents and carers in the learning experience of their child, is noted by the inspectors as “a strong feature”.

“Whilst we wholly acknowledge there are still improvements that we can make, we have been working incredibly hard and will continue to do so, to ensure that all our learners can make the best progress possible.”