It’s going to be a challenge, says Richard Kelly as he surveys his new school, one which he admits has had a ‘turbulent history’.
In May last year, Brune Park School in Gosport was rated inadequate by Ofsted.
Then the headteacher stepped down after nine years at the helm.
And then staff were hit with redundancies after it was revealed the school was £800,000 in the red.
But Richard, who takes up his post in September, is confident he can turn things round and build on the recent satisfactory grade given by Ofsted inspectors.
Richard, who takes over after eight years as headteacher at Quilley School of Engineering in Eastleigh, says: ‘It was everything about it. The fact that it’s a challenge in terms of trying to make a difference.
‘The history of the school has been turbulent. The idea is to make things a little bit more solid and a bit more stable. If we can get everything being consistent the potential is there in the students and the staff.
‘I like to be able to get in and get on with the job. It needs something that you can work with on a day-to-day basis. That’s what people at Brune Park want.
‘Ofsted is a platform for continued improvement and it’s about making sure there is consistency.’
Last year, Brune Park – which has 1,626 pupils, making it the second biggest secondary in Gosport, behind Bay House – celebrated improved GCSE results.
In total, 47 per cent of students achieved five or more A* to C GCSEs, including English and maths.
That compares to just 39 per cent the previous year and 42 per cent the year before that.
But this is well below the national average of 58.2 per cent.
Richard hopes the gradual rise in GCSE grades is something he can build on.
In his time at his previous school, Richard has seen six years of consistently improving GCSE results.
‘It’s been solid improvement,’ he adds.
‘That’s what I am hoping to bring here. Solid improvement gives you something to build on each time.’
And he says he is looking forward to the challenge ahead of him.
‘I’m excited about it,’ he says.
‘It’s that new challenge, it’s the next stage. It’s about making that difference in pupils’ lives. That’s what I came into teaching for all those years ago.’
Richard has three main targets he will be working on to move the school to where it needs to be – attendance, teaching and the aspiration of students at the school.
‘Attendance is always something that we need to work on,’ he adds.
‘A lot of work has been done in the last nine months. It’s started to improve significantly.
‘The strategies that are in place are ones that I would use – it’s about regular contacts with the parents and building those relationships.
‘Attendance is key. Unless you’re here, you can’t learn. It’s the right path and a significant improvement has taken place.
‘The key things are around teaching but it’s also around aspirations. It’s about belief that the students at Brune Park can be successful. That’s a big thing to turn around.
‘Until we have got that belief then we don’t believe we can be successful.
‘There’s a need for students to understand what it’s like in the world of work and to be ready for it and raise their aspirations as a result.
‘It’s understanding that they can shape it. It’s down to them as an individual.
‘We need that to happen but we don’t do it for them. I think the aspirations are quite low.
‘But the kids are fantastic. When I came here on a visit the kids just spurred me on.
‘They are so approachable. They understand and know what’s expected of them.’
Richard says he was pleased with what he did see when he first arrived at the school.
‘Looking at the quality of lessons I saw they were good and yet the inspection didn’t reflect that,’ he adds.
‘Over the years the staff hadn’t had the recognition when they had been successful. In the last nine months that’s happened. It’s something I want to continue.
‘People were willing and they were keen to make changes and be seen to be part of that change.
‘It’s about that consistency. It’s about seeing change is for a reason. I’m not coming in here to throw everything out and start again.
‘I want to know what things work and what we need to build on.’
Now, he hopes he can prepare the students to be in the best possible position when they move on in year 11.
‘Everyone says nationally that students only get one chance – it’s true,’ he says.
‘We have got to make sure that the students, when they leave here, are in the best possible place to make choices.
‘It’s about giving them a choice about what to do whether that’s college or an apprenticeship or the world of work.
‘If we have got that choice we can choose one of those things.
‘If we don’t have a choice we are stuck in a rut.’
Richard Kelly, 46, is married with three children and he lives in Hamble.
He spent the last eight years as headteacher of Quilley School of Engineering in Eastleigh.
It was a national challenge school and he worked on attendance, behaviour and improved the aspirations to bring progress to the school.
AN Ofsted inspection was carried out at the school in May of this year. It follow an inadequate rating a year ago where the school was given a notice to improve.
Inspectors reported that the amount of less effective teaching was reduced at the school and that teaching has improved.
But they added that in weaker lessons, teachers sometimes talk for too long and don’t give pupils enough time to work on their own or with fellow pupils.
In some lessons, the work is not at the right level for all pupils and some children find reading, writing and spelling difficult, and not all teachers are doing enough to help students to improve.
Behaviour had improved, as had attendance, although it is still reported to be slightly below average.
History of Brune Park
THE school has had a troubled history. Earlier this year, it was revealed that 28 teaching and staff posts would be axed as the school was significantly in debt.
That included seven teaching posts, 23 support staff and one senior leadership team member.
The school’s Ofsted ranking slipped from good in 2004 to satisfactory in 2008 and then inadequate in May last year.
A recent inspection rated the school to be performing at a satisfactory level – but with a lot of work still to be done.
Last year, Dr Ian Johnson stepped down from his role as headteacher to be replaced by Chris Anders, head of Park Community School in Leigh Park.
But the post was only temporary with the aim to bring in a permanent full time headteacher to steer the school in the right direction.