Department of Education ‘intervenes’ at Harris School after Ofsted inspection last month

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Two head teachers have been drafted in to Harris School following the sudden departure of former head teacher Stephen Dobson before Easter.

The high school, which is a Church of England Sports College, is also to be converted into an academy to help raise educational standards at the school. The school has seen its GCSE pass rate drop from 58 per cent in 2011 to 37 per cent in 2012.

One Rugby teacher, who did not wish to be named, said: “Mr Dobson was popular and well-though of at Harris School and it’s a shame his time at Harris has come to such an abrupt end. However, it was clear to many that staff and student moral had dropped. Staff turnover was high and behaviour at the school was getting out of hand.

“It’s a shame because it is a nice school - a lot of people hold it in high regards and will want it to get back on track.”

A new interim associate headteacher, Dr Vicky Lundberg, and executive headteacher Dr Julie Roberts, from an outstanding CofE school in Coventry, have been appointed as part of a package of improvements aimed at bringing the school up to the required standards. The bid for Academy status with the Coventry Diocese as a sponsor is expected to be completed before October.

The school was inspected by Ofsted in March, and overall, pupil achievement and progress were judged to be too low.

A statement from Warwickshire County Council said: “As a result, it is subject to a plan of action initiated by Warwickshire County Council and an interim governing body which aims to ensure rapid improvement.”

Sarah Callaghan, the county council’s head of learning and achievement, added: “Ofsted has highlighted the need to strengthen the leadership and educational standards at Harris School. We are implementing an action plan to help the school make the necessary improvements as swiftly as possible.

“Our planning will ensure the school’s capacity to improve will progress, and that it will be sustainable in the longer term. We have taken steps which will bring about tangible improvement, leading to higher standards in classrooms, and sustained stronger achievements by the end of each key stage.

“As the local authority working in partnership with the Coventry Diocesan Board of Education, our objective will be to provide support to improve results and the quality of education, and to build the capacity of the school to sustain its progress beyond March 2014.

“Parents can be assured that these urgent changes are necessary to improve the performance of the school and provide a better education for their children.”

A review carried out by the county council found that results are now below the standards set by the Government, which could trigger formal intervention by the Department of Education, and progress is significantly lower than expected.

An Interim Executive Board was appointed in January as a short term measure taken by a local authority to secure a sound basis for future improvement and promote high levels of educational attainment. Its membership contains experienced governors and specialists in the field of improving school performance.

Regular review meetings will assess the school’s progress over the next three terms.