A POPULAR Dorset secondary school with more than 1,000 pupils has been downgraded by Ofsted inspectors who said it Requires Improvement.

Corfe Hills School in Broadstone was rated as Good at its last inspection but this time a government team said things need to get better.

Five inspectors spent two days at the Higher Blandford Road School last term and their findings have just been published.

In a report sent to head teacher Phil Keen, lead inspector Steve Smith said: "The school has been through a difficult time. Changes in leadership, staff restructuring, financial considerations ad insufficient focus on teaching and learning have meant that leaders have not maintained sufficiently high standards.

"Leaders have been over-generous in their assessment of the school's effectiveness."

The report said pupils of different abilities are not making the progress they are capable of and expectations are not high enough.

It said feedback is applied inconsistently, governors do not sufficiently verify the impact of leaders' actions and absence is too high for vulnerable groups of pupils.

It also said there are no processes in place to ensure sixth form students make the progress they are capable of, teachers do not consistently plan activities tailored to the different needs of pupils and writing skills are not being developed well enough across the curriculum.

Inspectors observed lessons, held meetings with senior leaders and scrutinised documentation during their visit. They also looked at pupils' work and behaviour and took account of responses from 98 parents.

Despite the criticism, they also highlighted the strengths of the school and said pupils are well looked-after and that the social, emotional and behavioural needs are well-met.

They said aspects of teaching are improving and that behaviour is getting better and they also said pupils are polite, courteous and personable.

Mr Keen took over as head teacher in September and the inspectors said his leadership is starting to move the school forward. They said it is too early to see evidence of the impact of changes made.

The mixed school has 1,040 pupils between the ages of 13 and 18, 300 of whom are in the sixth form.

A spokesman for the school said: "It is clear from their report that the inspectors found very many positives in the school and they recognised that it is already on an improvement journey which will be of direct benefit to current and future students.

"Inspectors accept that the school is already addressing the majority of issues. They recognise that the right policies are in place but that in some cases it is too early to say that these are bringing about the intended outcomes."