OFSTED, the English office for standards in education, children’s service, has reported that the although school leaders at Phoenix College on Christchurch Road are “taking effective action towards the removal of special measures”, the school’s improvement plan is “not fit for purpose”.
Phoenix College is an SEMH (social, emotional, and mental health) special school for 64 students with education health care plans. OFSTED rated it inadequate in November 2018 and put into special measures.
The headteacher has worked determinedly with leaders and teachers to improve the school. Together, they have successfully introduced new approaches to managing pupils’ behaviour which have led to a calmer, safer school environment.
Recent improvements in behaviour are gradually leading to better outcomes, especially for pupils in key stage 3. Pupils are now gaining knowledge and understanding from the tasks they are set.
OFSTED also reported on poor staff retention :
A new deputy headteacher, who took up their role just after Easter, left shortly after joining the school. The head of art and design left shortly before Easter 2019. There is no full-time business manager at the school.
OFSTED also reported on poor student attendance :
Fewer than half of the pupils in years 7 to 10 were at school during the inspection. This meant that in most classes there was a ratio of one member of staff to one pupil.
There was a very high rate of non-attendance for year 11 pupils during the examination period. A number of pupils missed most of the examinations for which they had been entered. This will mean that some pupils will leave school with very few qualifications.
OFSTED reports that the school is very dependent on local authority support, adding that Reading Borough Council, the regional schools commissioner and the schools interim executive board are consulting with sponsors about converting the school into an academy.