Sandy Upper School update

Sandy Upper School
Sandy Upper School

Sandy Upper School has sent a letter to parents detailing the fortunes of the school over the last few years.

The letter explains that the number of students gaining five A* to C GCSEs including maths and English fell sharply between 2010 and 2012.

The figure was 51 per cent in 2010, 48 per cent in 2011 and 39 per cent in 2012. Remedial work over the 2012/13 academic year brought the figure up to a much improved 54 per cent in 2013.

In November 2011 following the first dip in results the school observed lessons taught by nearly all of the staff and decided that 73 per cent of lessons were either good or outstanding. It was also decided that 53 per cent of students were working at grade C or above in five subjects including English and maths and that another 20 per cent had a good chance of getting to this standard.

The letter then states: “At the end of November 2011 the school invited the local authority into the school to carry out a full review.

“This was led by an ex Ofsted inspector along with two colleagues including our newly appointed School Improvement Partner, Shawn Fell [head] of Harlington Upper School.

“The visit and the subsequent report began to ring serious alarm bells amongst the governing body.”

Consequently a School Improvement Group made up of governors was formed to work closely with the senior leadership team. The group decided that even if results improved the school should formally link with an outstanding school.

A formal collaborative arrangement was made with Shawn Fell for a minimum of three years.

The letter continues: “In August 2012 when the very disappointing results were published and the headteacher tendered his resignation with immediate effect it was agreed by members of the governing body that in place of the collaborative arrangement we should look for a sponsor for the school who could provide the necessary depth and capacity that could turn the school around in a very short space of time.”

Shawn Fell was appointed as the interim executive along with Karen Richardson as the interim head. The school’s governors and the Department for Education shortlisted potential sponsors during the autumn term and chose The Barnfield Federation because of “the depth of the organisation, the shared services provided and the excellent teaching and learning team.”

In February 2013 Ursula Byrne, a specialist in improving school standards, took up the post of interim headteacher on the recommendation of Central Beds Council.

Sandy Upper was due to be converted to a Barnfield sponsored academy in June 2013 but when the school was placed in special measures in February this was delayed until the end of the autumn term to allow Barnfield to seek additional funding.

The letter says: “The impact of the newly appointed team has proven very effective as shown by the recent results achieved and the predicted GCSE results for the current Year 11 cohort.

“Unfortunately due to the investigations by the Department for Education (DfE) into The Barnfield Federation the process to become a sponsored academy was put on hold until publication of the report which was due at the end of January.

“At the end of November we were advised by the DfE to seek an alternative option.

“We wish to strongly impress on all our stakeholders that the best interests of the students have been at the heart of all the decisions made.

“Whilst we recognise that the current uncertainty surrounding the school is very unsettling, the students are making excellent progress and it is the absolute priority of the governing body that they continue to do so under outstanding leadership.

“To this end we are working closely with an identified sponsor and Miss Hare to secure arrangements as soon as possible.”