Head confident boys will match girls before schools merge

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A HEADTEACHER has predicted boys will have matched the achievements of girls before her two schools officially merge.

Chichester High School for Girls and the neighbouring boys’ school will become one unit from September 1 2016, after receiving the go-ahead from the Education Funding Agency.

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SUS-150928-132137001

Recent Ofsted inspections saw the girls’ school rated ‘outstanding’ while the boys’ school was told it ‘requires improvement’.

But Yasmin Maskatiya, executive principal at both sites, said the boys’ site had already made excellent progress towards becoming an outstanding school in its own right.

Ms Maskatiya, who will take the helm at the new Chichester High School when it officially opens in September 2016, had been at the girls’ school for more than a year before she also took charge of the boys.

She took just two years to raise the girls from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘outstanding’ and has only had nine months to try to achieve the same with the boys. During that time, the boys turned in a record set of GCSE and A-level results which she believed would qualify for a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted.

I have had a head start at the girls’ school but the boys’ school is now well on its way. As a joint school, it will flourish even more.

Yasmin Maskatiya, executive principal, Chichester High School

Ms Maskatiya said the progress made by the girls in the past two years had been “an absolute testament to the staff, students, governors and parents of the school”.

She added: “Without wishing to appear arrogant, I believe we have, in the nine months that I have been in charge of the boys’ school, made excellent progress towards becoming an outstanding school in the boys’ school’s own right.

“The Ofsted report recognised the improvements that had been made and also acknowledged we were expecting amazing exam results which would have been clear evidence to make a ‘good’ judgement.

“We were unlucky in the timing of the inspection but I am delighted with the rise in standards across the board in the boys’ school.

“I have had a head start at the girls’ school but the boys’ school is now well on its way. As a joint school, it will flourish even more.”

When asked how the merger would ensure the boys improved further while the girls maintained their top ranking, Ms Maskatiya said: “My track record as a headteacher makes clear that I successfully lead schools to success.

“I am confident that the girls will continue to make the excellent progress of recent times and that the boys will also achieve beyond expectations.

“The approach will be one of mutual support.

“As I have said often to parents, every student, regardless of gender, deserves to succeed and it is our mission to ensure that this happens.”

The merger of the two schools will become legal on September 1 2016, and preparations have already been put in place. As well as one executive principal, there is now one senior leadership team and one combined governing body.

Staffing changes mean the schools now have single heads of English, maths and modern foreign languages as well as introducing combined support staff roles.

Ms Maskatiya said she was “incredibly proud and excited” to be in charge at such a pivotal time and added: “I am committed to bringing about real progress at both schools and in the merged school; that means that I, as executive principal, need to provide continuity of leadership over the next few years to safeguard the improvements we are making.”

Parents were ‘heavily in favour’ of merger

TWO-THIRDS of the people who took part in the consultation about merging the two Chichester High Schools were in favour of the change.

The consultation, which ended on January 16 saw almost 300 responses received, and 66 per cent of those agreed a merger would be for the best.

Headteacher Yasmin Maskatiya said: “The consultation has been heavily in favour of the merger.

“I think many parents prefer co-educational schools. At our recent Open Evening for the new High School we had huge numbers of parents and their children come to see what is on offer.

“The response on the evening was very much that people liked what they saw and could see that we have excellent provision and support for students here.”

The idea of a merger came about after figures showed there were not enough children in Chichester to fill the secondary school places available.

At a public meeting in November, Peter Walters, chairman of governors at CHSG, told parents: “The simple answer is there are not sufficient children in the Chichester community at the moment and our predictions of what we can see in terms of going ahead is that’s not going to change.”

Some 220 Year 11 girls left CHSG in the 2013/14 school year, compared with 140 Year 7 girls who joined this year.

Over at CHSB, 200 Year 11 left in 2013/14 compared with 120 joining this year’s Year 7 group.

The opening of Chichester Free School, in Vinnetrow Road, in 2013 was described by Ms Maskatiya as having had a “knock-on impact” at the High Schools.

She told the meeting: “We probably wouldn’t be in such a difficult position if it wasn’t for the free school. That’s not me attacking it, that’s just a fact of what’s happened.”

Headteacher with a proven track record for improvement

Yasmin Maskatiya took over from Fiona Oliver-Watkins as interim executive headteacher at Chichester High School for Girls in 2013.

From that September she was in the top job full-time and the school never looked back.

Ms Maskatiya made her plans for CHSG clear from the out-set, telling the Chichester Observer: “The plan is to make Chichester High School for Girls outstanding and I think that is absolutely, from day one, what we are working towards.”

The fact she proved as good as her word will have come as no surprise to anyone who followed her progress during her first role as headteacher.

Ms Maskatiya joined Thomas Bennett Community College, in Crawley, in 2000 and served 13 years at the helm.

In that time, she saw the college steadily improve and it grew from a low-performing school to one that had some of the top progress rates in the county.

Her final Ofsted report while at Thomas Bennett saw the college judged ‘good with many outstanding features’.

By the time the inspectors came round again, Ms Maskatiya had moved on to Chichester and Thomas Bennett’s rating had slipped back to ‘requires improvement’.

Both sites will make up new school

BOTH school sites will remain in use following the merger of Chichester High School for Girls and Chichester High School for Boys.

The schools have been given permission to join from September 1 2016 and executive principal Yasmin Maskatiya said her team had already begun to look at how the two sites will be used. While confirming both sites would be used, she acknowledged each and every classroom would not.

Ms Maskatiya added: “There are key principles we want to underpin in the organisation of the new High School. We want, for instance, to ensure that all the great facilities are used well; both schools have wonderful facilities: sports, drama, dance, outside areas and so on. In addition, we want the school to have a sense of community and closeness.”

She said the school wanted to avoid students and staff having to walk long distances between lessons and to ensure the teaching teams were located together.

When it came to the staffing and governance roles at the new school, Ms Maskatiya said it was too early to be precise about any changes. She added: “As I stressed to parents at the open evening, whatever changes occur, they will be made to enhance the education we provide otherwise, what would be the point of this change? The whole premise of the merger is to optimise opportunities and quality of learning.”

Mixed results from Ofsted

SEPTEMBER 4 was a day of mixed results for the two Chichester High Schools.

Each school received its first Ofsted rating since being taken into The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) family, but the outcomes were vastly different.

While the girls’ school was judged to be ‘outstanding’ – the top rank – the boys’ school was told it ‘requires improvement’ – one ranking up from the bottom.

Praising the “outstanding leadership” of Yasmin Maskatiya, the report for the girls’ school stated: “The headteacher’s drive, determination and passion for the school permeate every aspect of its work.”

It added: “The school’s culture of high aspirations is reflected in teachers’ high expectations of students and in students’ enthusiasm for learning.”

Over at the boys’ school, the inspectors rated the sixth-form provision and the behaviour of the students as ‘good’ – saying the latter had “improved significantly” over the past year.

High levels of staff turnover were said to have affected the quality of learning at the boys’ school and “impacted on students’ progress over time”.

The report also noted that, since Ms Maskatiya took the reins, attendance rates among the boys had risen and persistent absence rates had fallen.

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