A damning report has torn into teaching and leadership at a Sussex school which is now in special measures.
Last week The Argus revealed how Littlehampton Academy, which is part of the Woodard Academies Trust, was judged by Ofsted inspectors to be “inadequate” in three out of four criteria areas.
The full extent of the academy's shortcomings was published yesterday, with the quality of teaching and strength of leadership highlighted as the main areas of concern.
Lead inspector Edward Wheatley said the academy is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education.
Steve Jewell, who was hired in April 2009, left his role as principal suddenly on December 31 last year, just weeks after the inspection.
The report said: “The principal does not convey a clear sense of the need for urgent action to reverse the pattern of significant underachievement.
“Staff at different levels of responsibility lack confidence in the principal's ability to drive improvement and staff say their efforts are not valued.
“The school's capacity for further improvement is inadequate.”
While Mr Jewell came in for heavy criticism in the report, West Sussex Academy Watch's Sarah Maynard thinks the issues run deeper.
She said: “It's a tragedy for those kids and since it has become an academy in 2009 it has just gone downhill.
“It would seem quite convenient to blame it all on someone who isn't there anymore, but it's an absolute mess.
“What we're getting with academies is an increasingly fragmented education system that is quickly unravelling.”
The report said teaching was “inadequate” and that not enough was being done to eliminate the poor practice.
In turn the report states students are not being challenged in class, hindering their development.
Inspectors “strongly recommended” the academy should not seek to appoint newly qualified teachers.
The report also stated how failings at the academy have filtered through to the parents, who express “justified worries” about how well students make progress, the quality of teaching and about how well the academy is led.
David Bilton, chief executive officer of Woodard Academies Trust, said the new acting principal, Marianne Gentilli, can help turn the school around.
He said: “We are, of course, disappointed with the Ofsted findings but not surprised. We have already made changes as a result of our own internal reviews.
“A new acting principal is in place and an academic improvement board has replaced the former academy council to ensure that heightened emphasis is being given to the increasing and monitoring of academic standards within the academy.
“We look forward to welcoming the inspectors back to The Littlehampton Academy in the near future to demonstrate our commitment to improving attainment and progress.”