Head defends Eastbourne school in need of improvement

The Causeway School and Hazel Court School, Eastoburne.

Both schools share the same entrance.
The Causeway School and Hazel Court School, Eastoburne. Both schools share the same entrance.
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The headteacher at an Eastbourne school where an emergency board has been brought in to address concerns over ongoing “performance and attainment issues” has admitted there have been failings.

But Gene Payne, the head at Causeway, says he and his leadership team “feel confident they can continue the transformation started three years ago and are sure parents and pupils will see the rapid improvement to outcomes that is required”.

Gene Payne, Head of The Causeway School, Eastbourne. SUS-150519-152023001

Gene Payne, Head of The Causeway School, Eastbourne. SUS-150519-152023001

Mr Payne spoke out ahead of a publication of an Oftsed report on Friday in which he said inspectors had judged that the school requires improvement.

An emergency Interim Executive Board has also been brought in to replace school governors by the Department of Education because of issues.

In a letter to parents of pupils at the Larkspur Drive school, Mr Payne said, “I recognise that, as headteacher, I have not secured improvements to pupil outcomes as quickly as needed.

“Ofsted point out, and I acknowledge that, I have ‘tried to do too much at once, rather than prioritising what makes a difference to learning and progress’ and as a result ‘standards by the end of Year 11 have remained stubbornly low for a number of years, and are only just beginning to improve’.”

Mr Payne said the two days of the inspection went extremely well and inspectors judged the school as Requires Improvement in some key areas and judged as Good in one.

He said, “There have been significant and positive changes to the school in recent years, many of which were recognised by Ofsted, however, governors, the senior leadership team and I agree there are areas in which the school needs to improve.

“The inspectors observed and highlighted many positive features of the school.”

On Monday East Sussex County Council’s education department confirmed an Interim Executive Board had been brought in in light of attainment and performance issues.

In a statement to the Herald, Mr Payne said, “I believe the move by the governors of Causeway to request an IEB was an extremely positive and bold move.

“Since my arrival at the school just over three years ago the governors have guided the school to be ‘the best it has ever been’. They have ensured, in the words of Oftsed, ‘the curriculum and learning culture at the school has been transformed to meet the needs of learners and equip them well for the future and pupils currently at the school are beginning to make more rapid progress, which is evident in the quality of their work’.

“But despite this recent transformation to the learning and culture of the school, examination results say Oftsed ‘by the end of Year 11 have remained stubbornly low for a number of years, and are only just beginning to improve further’.

“An IEB will, we believe, ensure the progress already started will continue and intensify.”