A Lincoln village school has seen its Ofsted rating drop from ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement’, with particular concerns around ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’.

Branston Community Academy on Station Road in Branston was visited by Ofsted inspectors between May 10 and 12, 2022 and the findings were published this month.

Inspectors found that various areas need improving with ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’ both graded, along with the overall effectiveness of the school, as ‘requires improvement’.

However, the ‘quality of education’, ‘leadership and management’, and ‘sixth-form provision’ were all graded as ‘good’.

Inspectors said “most pupils enjoy coming to the school” and have “positive relationships with teachers”, with the “overwhelming majority” feeling safe.

However, the report identified that some students who experienced bullying did not report it and, when they did, it was not always resolved.

Some pupils also feel that their needs are not fully met by the personal development programme. For example, they would like to learn about consent “earlier than they currently do”.

The report says that many teachers approach such topics “sensitively and skilfully”, but some “are not comfortable talking about difficult issues”.

The academy said it has “already responded to the issues raised by strengthening follow up procedures for reports of bullying and relaunching and extended its online reporting systems”.

Ofsted highlights key areas for improvement

  • The report states that some pupils experience bullying, but not all feel confident to report concerns to an adult. When concerns are reported “they are not always resolved effectively”.
  • Ofsted said leaders must ensure that there is an open culture of respect, where pupils feel confident to report their concerns, knowing that they will be dealt with effectively.
  • Ofsted said leaders have not ensured that the programme for personal development fully meets pupils’ needs. It said: “Many pupils have gaps in their knowledge and understanding of British values, including the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”
  • Leaders have been told to ensure that a “well-planned, sequenced programme of personal development enables pupils to understand the importance of treating all others, including those who share a protected characteristic, with respect”.
  • Ofsted said there are occasions when teachers do not correct pupils’ misconceptions. Leaders have been told they must ensure that misconceptions are identified quickly and addressed.

Read the full Ofsted report here

Principal Jo Turner said: “I am delighted the school has recognised the quality of teaching and the positive relationships between students and staff.

“We welcome inspectors pointing out areas where we can improve. The school has a culture of continual improvement for staff and students and we will embrace the opportunity to make out school community even stronger.”

Branston Community Academy was previously rated as ‘outstanding’ at a full inspection in May 2016.

Ofsted inspectors carried out a monitoring visit in December 2019 to determine the effectiveness of safeguarding arrangements after concerns had been raised. They deemed safeguarding was effective. At the most recent inspection in May 2022, Ofsted again said that the “arrangements for safeguarding are effective”.

The Lincolnite readers said fines for term time holidays would be “still cheaper than going in school holidays” after the government launched its latest consultation on Friday.

Parents whose children have five days of unauthorised absence or lateness within one term, take holidays during term-time, or are out in public during the first five days of an exclusion, will face a fixed penalty notice.

Fixed penalty notices are £120, reduced to £60 if paid within 21 days. Currently, each local authority decides when it will issue a fine, but the government wants to introduce national deadlines at which the penalty notice must be considered.

The government believes there is a ‘postcode lottery’ over how councils choose to deal with truancy, or absences ‘without good reason’ which includes holidays in term time.

Lincolnshire County Council’s local code of conduct says that currently the threshold for issuing a fine is a follows:

  • Where a child is absent from school due to unauthorised absence of 15% or above over a six week period. This will include lateness after the close of registration
  • Where a child is present in a public place during school hours without reasonable justification during the first five days of any exclusion

John O’Connor, head of education support at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Being in school not only helps children learn more effectively, but it also supports their emotional wellbeing and social development.

“The government is currently consulting on new regulations for managing school attendance, to improve consistency across England. This will replace local codes of conduct, and the council and local schools will need to follow this new guidance once it has been finalised.”

The government is inviting comments on two proposals from schools, academy trusts, and local authorities:

  1. Making school admissions registers electronic so it is easier for the data to be seen
  2. Changing how soon fines can be issued to parents

The government consultation will gather views on bringing attendance policies up-to-date and change limits of when fines can be issued. The consultation, available online here, will run until 11.30pm on July 29, 2022.

What do The Lincolnite readers think?

Karen Charters said: “Still cheaper than going in school holidays, so if my kids were still at school I’d be taking them out one or two weeks a year, isn’t going to harm. Only time I wouldn’t would be if they were in year 10 and 11.”

Karen James commented: “Who can afford to take their children on holiday during school holidays? My children are all grown up now and even we can’t afford the ridiculous hiked up prices during school holidays. And yes, we used to take our children out of school during term time for one week’s holiday a year.

“They are all now successful, working, responsible, well adjusted adults so it clearly didn’t do them any harm at all. This government have no idea about the struggles of normal, hard working people of this country.”

Jon Pym said: “Worth paying the fine to save school holiday prices.

Debbie Edison said: “It’s very unfair, lots of families can’t afford a holiday out of term because the airline and hotels etc charge top rates, when they play fair things might change.”

Mark Gringo-Priestley said: “Cheaper than the inflated prices holiday companies charge out of term times.”

Ricky Lynch said: “Pay the £120, still cheaper than going in August or half-terms.

Josie Taylor said: “Disgusting. Stop companies charging more during summer holidays and you won’t have a problem of parents taking kids out of school anymore.”

Chloe Miles said: “Children learn just as much outside the class room as in it! Should be down to the discretion of the headteacher as to how often the child has off school in general.”

Not everyone appears to be against the plans as Simon Brightey said: “I would double that to £240 that will make them think twice about going on holiday in school term.”

Kenneth Wilson argued: “What about when the teachers have a day off, will each parent get £120?”

Steve Kent said: “Let’s introduce the same attendance shaming for MPs.”

The Nigerian senator charged with conspiring to bring a boy to the UK to harvest organs is a recently appointed visiting professor at the University of Lincoln.

Ike Ekweremadu, 60, and his wife Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, appeared in court in London on Thursday accused of conspiracy to arrange and/or facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation.

The 15-year-old alleged victim has been taken into care, BBC News reported.

Mr Ekweremadu was recently made a visiting professor at the University of Lincoln.

IGBERETV reported that on May 26 the former deputy senate president was appointed as Visiting Professor of Corporate and International Linkages by the university business school.

A University of Lincoln spokesman told BBC News: “Visiting professors are often, as is in this case, non-resident at the university, unpaid and advisory.

“We are deeply concerned about the nature of these allegations but as this is an active police investigation, we cannot comment further at this stage.”

Mr Ekweremadu will not be undertaking any work for the university during the investigation.

In 2018 he was also appointed Professor and Mentoring Scholar of E-Governance and Strategic Government Studies by the Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.

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