A SECONDARY school is “reaching for the stars” after coming out of special measures.

Futures Community College, in Southchurch Boulevard, Southend, was told it was failing after an Ofsted inspection in March 2014.

The education watchdog returned last month, and has nowupgraded the school’s rating from inadequate to requires improvement.

It follows five interim inspections, which monitored progress.

Stuart Reynolds, headteacher of Futures, is confident the school will soon be rated good.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted. We are an improved school and reaching for the stars now, we want to get even better.

“We hope to be a good rated school sooner than the next couple of years.

“The things that Ofsted highlighted in their inspection are already being targeted but the processes we have in place have not been there for too long, so they take time to change things.

“When we’ve addressed those, we’re not going to be far away from good.

“When Ofsted come in there is a lot of talking with children and parents too, so it is nice to know that they are behind the school and the improvements we are making. We couldn’t do it without them and it is nice for them to have that recognition that their efforts are noticed too.”

In the latest Oftsed report, published yesterday, lead inspector Paul Lawrence said standards of teaching and behaviour are improving, and gaps in achievement between disadvantaged pupils and others are narrowing rapidly.

However, Mr Lawrence found too many pupils fail to make sufficient progress in key academic subjects, and exclusions and persistent absences are still above the national average.

He also had concerns about teachers not pitching work at the right level or demanding high enough standards.

Progress welcomed by council

FUTURES’ progress has been welcomed by Southend Council.

It is the only non-academy secondary left in the borough, meaning it is the only school the council has control over.

The school’s interim executive board was set up by the council in November 2014 and received praise from Ofsted, with inspectors saying it was “highly experienced in education” and “understood the school’s strength and areas of weaknesses well”.

Southend councillor for children and learning, Anne Jones, said: “It is far from easy to move a school out of special measures, but this challenge has been met head on by Mr Reynolds and his team, along with pupils and parents, members of the board and our dedicated team of officers.

“Everyone should be heartened by this latest report which clearly shows that things are moving in the right direction.

“Perhaps most importantly it is clear that Mr Reynolds has the full support of his staff team in turning the school around, and we have been clear that our commitment backs this up.

“While there is clearly work still to be done, I am confident that Futures will continue to improve. With attainment and achievement also on an upward curve the school is in a strong position to continue its journey.”

Long and winding road out of trouble

FUTURES Community College has been in trouble for a number of years.

In March 2014 it was placed in special measures, but the problems date further back than that.

In November 2012 inspectors visited the school and judged it to be inadequate and suffering from serious weaknesses.

Pupils’ progress was inadequate, they did not have the basic speaking and writing skills, teaching was inadequate, the sixth form required improvement, teachers did not mark work regularly enough, they spoke too much in class and there was not encouraging pupilled learning. Interim inspections showed the school was not making good enough progress.

Since being put into special measures, there have been steady improvements.

At the first interim inspection, in June that year, Ofsted judged the school’s action plan as fit for purpose.

In November 2014 Southend Council’s action plan was also deemed fit for purpose and Ofsted commented that positive progress was made.

The story remained the same throughout 2015, with three further interim inspections highlighting improvements in teaching, behaviour and subsequently attainment.

How others are doing

ACROSS Southend, secondary schools are currently rated by Ofsted as: