Challenge ahead as Southsea school’s Ofsted rating plummets

111803_PRIORY_HEAD_18/05/11''James Humphries, new headteacher at Priory School, Fawcett Road, Portsmouth. ' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (111803-492)
111803_PRIORY_HEAD_18/05/11''James Humphries, new headteacher at Priory School, Fawcett Road, Portsmouth. ' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (111803-492)
Nicola Nixon led the protest outside Purbrook Park School Picture: Habibur Rahman (171257-382)

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A SECONDARY school that used to be among the city’s best has been placed in the bottom ranking by government inspectors.

Priory School in Southsea, which was consistently rated good, has been given an Ofsted notice to improve – which means the Department for Education could intervene if standards don’t get better soon.

The report, which is one of the first for Portsmouth under the new and harsher Ofsted marking system, criticises overall satisfactory teaching, below average GCSE results, and some disruptive students.

But new head James Humphries, who won praise for strong leadership and tackling under-performance is confident the school will regain its former glory.

Inspectors have already noted rising attendance and progress in maths and science.

Mr Humphries said: ‘We are taking this Ofsted very seriously – it reflects the school’s performance over the last three years.

‘But we have put all the right things in place and it’s already having an impact.

‘I’m confident we will be out of the category in our next full inspection (within 16 months).’

Last year, Priory had a 10 per cent fall in its good GCSE pass rate, which was blamed on a disastrous maths module which 25 pupils failed unexpectedly.

Mr Humphries admitted his main focus had been around addressing a lack of consistency of teaching across all the departments.

Since his appointment last May, five teachers have left, and the school is advertising for non-teaching year leaders to focus on individual pupil progress, as well as a new assistant head to monitor teaching standards.

There has also been a shift in behaviour management with the introduction of a restorative justice tactic where ‘victims’ of problems in school make impact statements.

Since September, 19 families have been given fines for unauthorised absence.

Mr Humphries, who inherited the school’s failed bid for major refurbishments under the axed Building Schools for the Future scheme, said: ‘The target is to be outstanding within five years.

‘I’m determined to do that as our children deserve the best.’