Bury St Edmunds' County Upper School rated 'good' overall following full Ofsted inspection
A school that has had five Ofsted inspections in three years after being judged 'inadequate' in 2019 is celebrating after achieving a 'good' rating overall.
County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds has been recognised for its high-quality curriculum, continued safeguarding measures and improvements for SEND pupils following the inspection in March this year.
The Ofsted report said 'much of the school has changed since the previous inspection' but did highlight the area of behaviour and attitudes as 'requires improvement', saying 'a significant minority of pupils in some year groups are not behaving well and are disrupting the learning of others
around the school'.
The school has reviewed current systems with staff and students and launched a new behaviour policy at the start of the summer term.
Headteacher Sally Kennedy joined the school last year with the ambition of bringing back its Ofsted rating of ‘outstanding’ - and this is still an aspiration.
She said: “I am very proud to be working with staff who have made the changes that the report describes and even prouder to be working at a school with such fantastic young people.
“We know of the deep affection and loyalty there is to the school from both students and parents, past and present, and we look forward to working with everyone to build on the positive aspects of this report.
“I have come from a school where we went from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ and I am now very confident that we will see that occur here too.”
County Upper School has had five Ofsted inspections, including four monitoring visits and the recent full inspection, since the full inspection in 2019. The school's 'inadequate' rating in 2019 centred on safeguarding failures.
The latest inspection, which took place over two days in March, noted that all pupils access a high-quality education and careers programme in both the school and sixth form along with a 'vibrant programme of enrichment experiences' that underpin the school experience for all students.
In terms of areas for improvement, a high level of persistent absence, particularly for groups of vulnerable pupils, was flagged up and inspectors also said despite their efforts, leaders have not successfully re-established 'effective, positive working relationships with the parental community'.
"Leaders need to work more closely with parents, taking their concerns into account, so the school re-establishes itself as an important part of the local community," the report said.
Tim Coulson, chief executive of Unity Schools Partnership of which the school is a member, said: “We are delighted with the progress made by everyone connected to County Upper School.
“We are collectively committed to the school returning to its former position of being one of the finest schools in the area - and this report provides much encouragement on the developments that have taken place.”
Roger Quince, chair of the school’s local governing body, added: “We agree with the inspectors about the issues needing further attention.
“We have invested funding beyond the school’s allocated income to increase the size of the pastoral team and the support and attention needed for pupils whose attendance is poor.
“We are delighted by the recent opportunities for parents once again to be in school and are particularly grateful to the 45 parents who have volunteered to be part of a parent focus group who will be helping to set the future direction of the school.”
There are 850 pupils on the school roll.