Etonbury, despite being such a clear favourite of Fairfield families applying to middle school last year, was downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ in its latest Ofsted report, published in December. This follows on from the news that Henlow CofE Academy, the school that everyone thought second best, achieved an ‘outstanding’ score in its Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools report back in June.

The main sticking point for Etonbury was that the school’s management has not adapted well enough to its new size and status. Pupil numbers have more than doubled in recent years, the age range has increased to admit upper- as well as middle-school children, significant numbers of new staff have had to be taken on, and as a result of all that, teaching (and progress) has become patchy. The school is described as “coasting”. The report did signal strongly, however, that most parents are happy with the school – perhaps because the other side of the expansion coin is that it has meant significant updating and upgrading of facilities.

On balance it will probably turn out well. The Etonbury leadership team’s “overly positive view” of the school was preventing it from identifying where change was needed. Areas for improvement have now been listed for them, and the staff can move forward with implementing those changes. The full report can be found on the Ofsted website.