The main findings of the Inspection Team are that:
- Achievement is good in all year groups, including in the sixth form. This is because leaders and teachers no longer accept mediocre standards.
- Students’ behaviour and attitudes to learning are good. Whereas in the past, some were casual in their efforts, students now take their learning more seriously.
- Students say they feel safe in the academy. They care about each other and the staff. A strong sense of ‘belonging’ permeates the academy.
- Excellent targeted training and support have helped teachers to develop new skills and routinely reflect on practice which works best. As a result, teaching is good and improving.
- The Executive Principal provides exceptional leadership. Her swift actions to address inadequate teaching and leadership have resulted in rapid and sustainable improvements.
- The Principal and senior leaders are highly visible, ‘hands on’ and known to all. Together, they have raised achievement and improved teaching.
- Interim Management Board members are wise ‘lieutenants’. They have been instrumental in securing the necessary rapid improvements, including acting promptly to recover the academy’s financial deficit.
- The sixth form is good. Students achieve well across a range of academic subjects. They benefit from study programmes that are well designed and fit for purpose.
The sole reason the school was placed in Sepcial Measures last year was because OFSTED identified failures in leadership, which lead to all other aspects of the school requiring improvement, the category that was previously called "Satisfactory"
THe key changes since last year are that:
- The academy acquired sponsors with effect from October 2013 and is now part of the Thinking School’s Academy Trust (You will find the full list of TSAT schools here.
- In September 2013, an Executive Principal, a National Leader in Education, was seconded to the leadership of the academy. She is also the Chief Executive of TSAT.
- A new Principal was appointed in the Easter term of 2014.
As a result leadership and management have been found good by OFSTED because:
- New leaders have quickly and very successfully addressed inadequate leadership and developed the skills of all those in leadership roles. As a result, teaching, behaviour and achievement are now good.
- The Executive Principal and the Principal are unswerving in their determination to ensure that students receive a ‘top class’ education. They have taken tough, judicious and, at times, unpopular decisions to bring about rapid improvements in teaching and achievement by refusing to accept mediocrity.
- Intelligent systems have quickly been established to monitor and support teachers to improve the quality of their teaching. This has resulted in significant improvements in the proportion of students securing top grades in GCSE and A-level examinations, with progress rates in English and mathematics significantly above national normhose new to the academy, including to leadership positions, receive tailored support and guidance informed by their previous experience. This wise strategy has enabled new staff to make a positive impact on students’ achievement over a relatively short period.
- The Principal checks teaching with a sharp lens. He knows where best practice is located within the academy, and why. Joint observations conducted with inspectors were accurate. Staff, students and parents have been captivated by the clarity of his vision and evident passion for what the academy can achieve.
- Subject and pastoral leaders have a clear understanding of their roles, what they are accountable for and how senior leaders will measure their success. There is now a substantial body of good and outstanding practice at this and at senior level, from which others new to the academy can develop and learn.
- Students are well prepared for life in modern Britain. They are able to access a broad range of subjects, including in the sixth form, well-tailored to their aptitudes and abilities. Changes made to entry requirements to the sixth form and the nature of the study programmes now on offer ensure that students entering the sixth are well placed for the next steps in their education and employment.
- Leaders are committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for all students. They maintain a watching brief on the progress of different groups of students and trigger additional support where necessary. The good progress secured by disabled students and those who need extra support provides testimony to the success of this approach.
- The Principal and governors take the performance management of staff seriously. Pay rises, including for senior staff, are not automatic. No teachers received pay awards during 2013. The Principal is currently in the process of aligning pay to individual teachers’ performance in 2014, with a view to informing the latest pay and performance management decisions.
- Leaders have evaluated the academy’s effectiveness accurately. They are aware of current shortcomings and have already begun to tackle these effectively.