Headteacher hits back at Ofsted over library blast

Paul Bousfield head of Abraham Guest
Paul Bousfield head of Abraham Guest

A Wigan academy with struggling literacy levels has been blasted by inspectors for denying pupils access to its on-site library.

Watchdog Ofsted pans Abraham Guest Academy in Orrell for restricting students’ use of Lamberhead Green Public Library, calling the move a “waste of resources”.

The Wigan Evening Post understands that youngsters have been barred from freely using the public library during breaks and lunchtimes because of previous bad behaviour.

The criticism comes in a new report which states that the Greenhey school “requires improvement” following an inspection last month.

However, the academy principal, Paul Bousfield, insisted pupils can use the library “when appropriate to the curriculum” and criticised Ofsted for raising the issue in its report.

Ofsted inspectors also criticised:

The gap between the achievement of pupils who are disadvantaged, have special educational needs or disability, and their peers;

Misleading information that had been relayed to governors from senior leaders;

Poor progress in mathematics, “weak” modern foreign languages teaching, and “overgenerous” religious education marking;

Failure to challenge middle- and higher-ability students, limiting their progress;

Bad behaviour caused by a lack of activities in social times, and the use of mobile phones during breaks.

The report reads: “Poor literacy is a key barrier to learning for many pupils yet the vast public library on the school is kept locked, even on days when it is not open to the public.

“Pupils [must] always receive high-quality support and resources to help them read, write and spell accurately.”

Lamberhead Green Library opened on the site in 2010, when the school was still known as Abraham Guest Specialist Sport and Art College.

The Wigan Evening Post has learnt that the policy was first introduced two years later, around the same time the school was granted academy status in January 2012 and broke free of local authority control.

It is believed pupils can only enter the library during lesson time under the supervision of a teacher.

A Wigan Council spokesman said it was the school’s decision when pupils could access the library.

However, Ofsted’s findings have been criticised by Abraham Guest, which insists students can access the resources they require.

Mr Bousfield said: “All students are enrolled as public members of the Lamberhead Green Library when they join the academy in year seven and receive a library induction.

“Students access the library during English lessons when appropriate to the curriculum. The library is also accessed by all other subject areas to complete research and other tasks.

“This was not explored as part of the Ofsted visit and we are unsure why the inspector made this part of the report.”

Mr Bousfield added that the school had already begun working towards addressing Ofsted’s other concerns, and is hoping it will achieve a “good” rating in its next inspection.

Abraham Guest has been ordered to “rapidly raise standards” in maths and close gaps in achievement for disadvantaged students.

The school must also strengthen the “day-to-day quality” of its teaching and feedback, although Ofsted were satisfied with the care and safety of its pupils.

Inspectors were also satisfied that the academy would achieve its predicted improvement on last year’s exam results, when just 28 per cent of its leavers achieved five GCSEs at grades A* to C inclusive of English and maths - one of the lowest percentages in the country.

Responding to the school’s concerns about their report, an Ofsted spokesman said: “Inspection findings are firmly rooted in evidence to ensure that it reflects an accurate picture of a school.

“As with all inspections, schools are sent their draft report to provide factual accuracy comments.

“In relation to this school, we took on board their comments made during the factual accuracy checks including access to the library.”