A FOREST secondary school that was put in special measures by Ofsted last year has made significant progress in several areas since its last inspection. 

But the education watchdog says despite the improvements made, more work is needed before the “category of concern” can be removed.

SGS Forest High School in Cinderford was put in Special Measures following an inspection last May, but Ofsted’s latest report says there have been big improvements made in both staffing and the school’s curriculum since then.

And while staff and students at the school are pleased with the progress so far, Headteacher Mr Alan Dane says there is still a way to go until the school can be considered ‘Good’ and maintain that level long into the future.  

The school on Causeway Road was found to be ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted in an inspection last year, having previously been told it ‘Requires Improvement’ in 2018.

The inspection found the school was not providing a broad and effective curriculum for every student, that there was poor behaviour in every lesson and that the school was not led well in some areas. 

In the latest inspection, which was the first since the school was judged to require special measures, His Majesty’s Inspector Lydia Pryde found that it now provides “a broad curriculum” with a “a skilled and well-motivated staff team, determined to improve the school”. 

The report stated that pupils “now enjoy learning music, drama, computing and food” as well as physical education, which has resulted in successes in district sports tournaments. 

It says that leadership has improved “rapidly” during the last year having introduced an “effective structure” for subjects, different approaches to managing behaviour, and reorganising the school day to prioritise reading.

The report adds that “leaders have raised expectations for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)”, and that pupils now benefit from a curriculum which “supports their personal development”.

But the Inspector also identified that work is still needed to improve students’ behaviour and attitude to learning.

The report says a “significant minority” of pupils still hold “negative attitudes” and lack self-discipline, and that it is “too soon” to evaluate the impact of strategies leaders have implemented to address this.

Headteacher Mr Dane described the report as “a really fair and very pleasing reflection of the huge strides we have made on our journey to finally giving Cinderford’s fantastic young people the school they deserve”.

He said the school has made “real progress” on issues that were raised last year, in particular the range of subjects offered, the quality of the staff, and meeting the needs of individual students.

He also praised efforts to improve the wider curriculum in terms of personal development, with things like extracurricular sport.

“We are district champions in rugby and football at the moment, which is very satisfying having done no sport a year ago”, he said proudly.

“I think that whole package is a really rich range of things that are just transformed since last year.” 

He added that overall he’s pleased with the speed of the progress that has been made, despite the school still being in Special Measures. 

“Since I began last January, two thirds of teaching staff are new to the school, and we’ve worked really hard to get the absolute best teachers of those different subjects along with the best leaders.

“A lot of time, effort and thought has gone into how the school needs to be, so I think we hoped it (the report) would be this good, but it’s hard to always know what’s going happen, particularly with the last few years in education in general.

“To have come this far this quickly, and for that to be reflected in an Ofsted report, is quite unusual.” 

But he added: “None of the issues are ‘fixed’, we know we’ve got to carry on getting better. 

“I think it’s about being really pleased about how far we’ve come knowing that it has been everybody in the school making that happen.

“But then, having come this far, just think about how far we can go next time and next time and next time. 

“So yes, it is being proud, it is being really pleased, but it’s using that as a motivation to keep getting better, and not to sit around and talk about how great we are.”

He said of the impact the improvements have had on the students: “I think most of our students are happier at school, they feel more fulfilled, they feel that people know who they are and what they need. 

“We’ve had students tell us, and have certainly told the Ofsted inspector this year, that they feel proud to come here for the first time. 

“We have around 60 students coming to us in September, which is around our average, but all but two families chose us as their first choice, which is pretty much doubling where we’ve been at before.”