A SCHOOL has been praised for its ‘positive changes’ and new leadership despite being downgraded by Ofsted.

The Stable School, on Dudmoor Farm Road in Christchurch, has been described to be going through an ‘unsettling time’ by the education watchdog after changes in leadership.

The school, which teaches around 60 pupils ages six to 16, was downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’.

John Shanahan, interim principle, said he started at the school on September 1 last year, just nine weeks before Ofsted visited.

He said The Stable School are on an ‘improvement journey’ and that the inspection report was one of the ‘most positive requires improvement he had ever seen’.

The report said that new leaders have raised expectations of pupils however, they understand there is much more to do to improve the school.

Inspectors recognised a broad curriculum that is further developed in some areas than others however, said there is insufficient focus on developing positive reading habits.

Mr Shanahan said the school are working at embedding reading into every lesson, rather than one subject, and introducing reading at different times of the day.

“So at the start of the day, the day begins with breakfast and reading and you can just read anything, so that we can really get the students into the basic principle that reading is a positive experience,” said Mr Shanahan.

Inspectors also recognised that expectations of pupils ‘are not always high enough’, but Mr Shanahan said improvements in this area are already ‘working really well’.

He added that the school are making sure pupils can access non-academic subjects, such as construction, as early as years five and six.

The report stated that many pupils arrive at the school with a ‘history of poor attendance’ and that a minority of pupils still do not attend enough.

It added that the school has increased its focus on attendance and follow on absences quickly.

Mr Shanahan said that staff have focused on understanding what the barriers are for pupils attendance and ensure the receive the correct support.

“So students who've got the lowest attendance will have the most intense support to try and overcome and address those issues and also make sure that we're the right school for the child.

“If the child struggles to attend, then maybe we're not the right school, and that’s also important.”

Mr Shanahan added that a new rewards system allows students to earn points, where they do not lose them for getting them wrong but gain more ‘for getting it right’.

Pupils can exchange their points for school and sports equipment or can save them for larger prizes such as family cinema tickets.

A spokesperson for The Stable School said: “We are delighted that inspectors recognised the role that Melrose and new leaders have had introducing positive changes, raised expectations of pupils’ academic learning and how they should behave.”