Damning Ofsted report brands Mark Hall Academy “inadequate”

Education: Secondary / Mon 6th Jul 2020 at 08:59am

AN INSPECTION report by government education watchdog, Ofsted has branded Harlow secondary school Mark Hall Academy “inadequate”.

Inspectors came to the First Avenue school on March 4th and 5th, 2020.

The report does not mince its words and paints a picture of a school where bullying is not being tackled and pupils do not feel safe.

The school has had its struggles over the past twenty years or more as head after head has tried to turn around a school that was once seen, by far, as the top school in Harlow. There was a steady revival under the charismatic Corinne Franchesci but since her departure, standards have clearly declined.

The report makes the following observations.

Pupils learning too little

Pupils attend a school which does not meet their needs as well as it ought to. In many subjects, for too long, pupils have learned too little. There have been some improvements recently, but many pupils still have too many gaps in their knowledge. They are not suitably prepared for their next steps after Year 11. This has been the case for some time.

Pupil behaviour

Pupils’ behaviour varies significantly from subject to subject. Pupils lose too much learning time because there is too much unacceptable behaviour in some classes. Bullying happens, and adults do not deal with it well enough.

Some teachers manage pupils’ behaviour well and create an orderly environment in which pupils can learn; too many do not. Some lessons in some subjects are routinely disrupted by ongoing poor behaviour.

Staff Turnover

The school has been through highly disruptive changes since the previous inspection. Reduced support from the trust, changes in senior leadership and high staff turnover have all played their part in the decline.

Special Educational Needs

Provision for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) is weak. The pupils do not get the right help.


Bullying is not tackled effectively. Some staff do not deal with it well enough. New procedures for overseeing bullying incidents have been brought in but have had little impact.


The arrangements for safeguarding are not effective.

Leaders’ procedures to keep pupils safe are not strong enough and have left some pupils vulnerable. Despite improvements, child protection records are not kept in line with school procedures. Records of bullying incidents have not been used to enable leaders to tackle bullying effectively. This has undermined pupils’ confidence in adults to keep them safe. Too many pupils do not feel there is a trusted adult in school they can talk to.

Important information about pupils leaving the school part-way through the year has not been passed on to the local authority in line with statutory requirements. This means the whereabouts of these pupils remained unchecked for too long.

New leadership

The school appointed a new principal, Manjit Hazle and there are many who believe she may be able to turn the school around

In October 2019, trust leaders organised a searching review of the quality of provision in the school

This shone a spotlight on the real problems the school has. The trust has now invested heavily in helping leaders to put things right, including appointing two executive principals to work alongside leaders. This has increased the school’s capacity to improve, and things are beginning to get better as a result.

The full report be found here


Mark Hall Academy is run by Sutton Coldfield-based Academy Transformation Trust

A spokesperson for the academy said:

“The Ofsted report recognises the positive work done by senior leaders and the Trust to move the academy in the right direction following a challenging period. However, we absolutely recognise there is still more to be done and we are already working hard to make further and effective improvements.

“The academy is now being led by newly appointed and highly experienced leaders at both executive and academy level, who will continue to drive the academy on its upward trajectory.

“As an academy, we are determined to provide our pupils with the opportunity to strive for excellence every day, and we are committed to ensuring all pupils receive the high-quality education they deserve. We will be working tirelessly alongside students, staff, parents, carers, and the wider academy community to ensure standards and outcomes are raised.”

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