Education

Two secondary schools in the Lincoln area have gone back to online learning this week after Covid-19 outbreaks have left them short-staffed.

Several year groups at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School will be learning online from today, as well as years nine and 10 at Pembroke Academy in Cherry Willingham.

Both schools are facing Covid-19 outbreaks, with too many staff off school to open safely to all pupils.

It comes as the government is urging all secondary school pupils and staff to wear face masks in communal areas from today, amid concerns over the spread of the new Omicrom variant with cases discovered in Britain over the weekend, including in neighbouring Nottingham.

The head teacher of a Lincolnshire grammar school downgraded from ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement’ has hit out at Ofsted, saying it is a ‘shame’ inspectors can no longer look at pupils’ exam results.

Queen Elizabeth’s High School in Gainsborough has been slapped with an overall ‘requires improvement’ rating, with ‘quality of education’ and ‘leadership and management’ flagged up as problem areas.

The school was last inspected just under 13 years ago, in November 2008, when it got an ‘outstanding’ rating.

In a statement, headteacher Rick Eastham said: “Post-pandemic, Ofsted is not permitted to consider most recent school attendance figures nor students’ academic achievement and progress as part of their body of inspection evidence.

“This is a genuine shame as despite recognising that many students continue to achieve highly, specific reference to hard data could not be made.

“Similarly, the target setting, monitoring and tracking which indicate the excellent results and value-added year 11 and year 13 are set to attain this summer cannot, regrettably, be taken into account.”

The latest GCSE results saw 72% of QEHS students get at least one grade 9 or 8, with 15% of students gaining four or more grade 9s, or equivalent, placing them in the top 1 to 2% nationally.

As an ‘outstanding’ school, QEHS had been exempt from routine inspections until Oftsed brought in a new framework in 2019.

Ofsted visits to schools were put on hold during the COVID pandemic, not restoring until autumn this year, with inspectors paying a visit to QEHS on September 28 and 29.

Inspectors found inconsistencies in the quality, design and implementation of the curriculum and felt there should be ‘higher levels’ of curriculum understanding and greater consistency across the school.

The report says some subjects are well taught, but this is not the case for all of them, meaning not all pupils achieve as well as they could.

And inspectors were critical of some of the school’s senior leaders, saying they do not have a ‘sharp enough grasp’ of the school’s strengths and weaknesses.

Mr Eastham added: “Naturally, united as a whole school, we are disappointed by these observations and inspection outcome.

“Collectively, we seek to implement the recommendations made in the report as rapidly as possible. Crucially, the inspectors recognised this capacity for change and that recent actions have driven school improvement at pace and with purpose.

“There is a real sense of optimism around the journey QEHS is on. As ever, the loyalty and sustained commitment of the wider school community remains central to supporting this direction of travel and is very much appreciated.”

‘Behaviour and attitudes’, ‘personal development’ and ‘sixth-form provision’ were all rated ‘good’.

And the report said students were proud to be members of the QEHS community, they feel safe, cared for, and welcome the wealth of opportunities available to them.

Inspectors found students behave well and respect others and continue to leave QEHS as well-rounded young adults.

The school has 1,243 pupils on roll and 311 in the sixth-form.

Calls for a “Legal Street Art Wall” in Spalding are set to go before South Holland District Council next week.

Graffiti artists Karl Barfoot and Adam Sadd are set to hand a 1,300 signature petition calling for a designated area to become somewhere street artists can go, to the authority at its Full Council meeting next Wednesday.

They said a similar initiative in Peterborough has been a “huge attraction for the city”.

“Having something like this in Spalding will attract many big named street artists to come and paint here, and also be an attraction for the town, bringing more business/customers to the rest of the town whilst they visit,” said the petition.

It added that the wall could be used by schools and local community groups, to “teach the younger generation about the street art culture, to respect the artwork and to teach them how to do it”.

Karl’s tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore following his death. | Image: supplied

Speaking to Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines, Karl said he had a few locations in mind and also had ideas for how projects could use the wall to promote events and other attractions in the town.

“I know their biggest concern will be that it’s going to increase graffiti in Spalding, but it isn’t like that and we’re hoping to sway the more negative ones to the positive side,” he said, instead arguing it would focus it on one area.

“We’re just trying to get one acceptable area or wall we can use all the time, not the whole town — just one area we can use and on which the artwork can change as we get different artists involved,” he added.

Karl has become known in Spalding over recent years for some of his bigger pieces, including a tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore near Spalding Rugby Club and the Hogwarts Express at Spalding Railway Station.

Karl has also painted the Hogwarts Express at Spalding Railway Station. | Image: supplied

And Batman’s Joker. | Image: supplied

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