Clifton Hunter High School students are performing well below international standards because they are not receiving adequate instruction, according to an inspection report issued late Tuesday by the Office of Education Standards.

The report rated Clifton Hunter’s overall performance as weak, the lowest of four possible scores.

The report faults the school’s teachers and administrators on a number of fronts, including poorly executed lessons, inadequate student outcomes and misplaced priorities. The points raised by the report include the following:

  • Attainment and progress in English, mathematics and science were below international standards.
  • In more than a third of lessons, teachers did not use assessment information to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses or plan learning activities to match them. As a result, only a minority of students made good progress in lessons over time.
  • Leaders were not applying the new school inspection framework accurately, so they had a weak understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses. This led to improvement plans not being focused on the correct priorities.
  • Fewer than half of the students left the school with five or more Level 2 passes (on 2018 GCSE exams), including English and mathematics at the expected level.

Repeated efforts to reach officials at Clifton Hunter for comment were unsuccessful.

Peter Carpenter, director of education standards, said this inspection is the first to be published using a new framework for evaluations. The last time the school was inspected, during the 2014-2015 school year, it was found to be unsatisfactory.

“It is a more demanding framework,” Mr. Carpenter said. “That’s because the government is aspiring for our schools to be competitive on an international level.”

The report noted that the school starts from a deficit.

“Attainment on entry to Clifton Hunter was below the expected level,” the report noted. It found that while student progress in Years 7 and 11 was satisfactory, in the years between, it was weak.

“A minority of students reached their end-of-year targets in these year groups,” the report said, while adding the caveat that “attainment has been on an improving trajectory between 2015 to 2017 for science and English, but science dropped significantly in 2018.”

The report found pockets of positive results.

“There was good attainment in information technology because a majority of students exceeded international standards,” it said. It also found, “A majority of students in Year 11 English made better than expected progress in relation to their recent starting points. The support for lower-attaining students in Year 11 enabled them to make good progress.”

But it also found situations that raised questions about priorities.

“Sometimes simple accessible resources were not available and it affected the quality of learning,” Mr. Carpenter said.

The report noted that basic tools, such as compasses and protractors for geometry classes, were unavailable to students. Students were expected to draw accurate shapes by hand.

At several points, inspectors note that students are not sufficiently challenged.

“Teaching regularly resulted in passive learning with little opportunity for students to ask questions or explore their understanding in dialogue with others,” the report noted.

It found that students were quickly bored by some lessons and also saw evidence of worksheet assignments that were “undemanding.”

The inspection team identified that a third of students were too young for their school year because they were not admitted into the appropriate year group for their chronological age. It suggested reviewing admissions policies “to decrease the proportion of students who are not in their chronological year groups.”

The school did receive a good rating for having adequate staff and providing a good learning environment.

It was rated satisfactory in such areas as student behavior, curriculum and leadership.

“Actions taken by the principal had addressed the majority of recommendations in the previous inspection report,” inspectors said, referring to the assessment in 2014-2015. “Senior leaders modelled high professional standards … but they were over-generous in their evaluations.”

A survey of 109 parents found that 69 percent agreed that the school was providing a good education for their children. Of the 76 faculty surveyed, that figure was 88 percent. Most of the students in the school, 685 of 780, participated in the survey, with 72 percent agreeing the quality of education was good.

Because of its poor assessment, inspectors plan to visit Clifton Hunter for another inspection within six months.

The full survey can be found on the Office of Education Standards website at

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