The Ockendon Academy Ofsted report has been released following the inspection that took place on 9th and 10th October 2018. This inspection was carried out under Section 5 of the Education Act 2005.
The inspectors commented on and judged each of the areas below.
The academy takes great pride in the Personal Development and Welfare of its students both in the academy and the Sixth Form; therefore, it was very pleasing to hear Ofsted describe that the ‘welfare of students is at the very heart of the academy, with a strong culture of safeguarding’. Our work to promote students’ personal development and welfare is “good”. Students are “prepared well for aspects of adult life”, we promote after-school activities which “help pupils to stay healthy” and use tutor time and assemblies effectively to endorse British values.
I’m particularly proud to see the academy being described as a “beacon of politeness” with parents overwhelmingly agreeing that students are “happy and safe”. The academy is described as a “well-ordered community” where students “enjoy coming to school”. Our students have been praised on their smartness and wearing “their uniform with pride”, displaying politeness, maturity and being “great ambassadors for the school”.
However, despite these great achievements, it is with great disappointment that I must inform you that the academy has been judged ‘Inadequate’, with serious weaknesses. Inspectors identified that, for too long, the reality of the academy’s weaknesses were not grasped and not enough was done to stem the falling standards.
Since my appointment as Principal in September, the Leadership Team and I along with the governing body identified the weaknesses and have introduced a series of progressive and robust policies and procedures to improve the academy. The report praises recent improvements, but correctly states more time is required to embed all new initiatives throughout the academy and to demonstrate their impact.
Your child(ren)’s future is our top priority. Therefore, rapid improvement is imperative. Following the inspection, we reviewed and refined our Academy Improvement Plan to enact Ofsted’s recommendations swiftly. Evidence of our transformational programme can already be seen in our design of the Common Learning Framework, our thorough review of the curriculum and the refined annual staff training programme which focus on improving learning and teaching across all year groups and subjects.
Inspectors could see first-hand that we have an astute appreciation of what needs to be done, that all leaders have a clear sense of direction and are empowered to lead. Additionally, inspectors were keen to comment that the “new leadership this term has had a dramatically positive impact on morale. The strengths of the leadership team are complimented by a strong governing body who have a “clear understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement”.
Despite the disappointing outcome, we are proud that the report identifies many strengths. Other notable strengths are Learning and Teaching at KS4 and our Sixth Form provision.
Inspectors visited 48 lessons across all year groups and reported that “the teaching engages pupils well in learning in creative and active subjects” and “strategies used supported pupils’ literacy well and enhanced pupils’ learning in science, English and information technology”. In addition to this, effective teaching in Years 10 and 11 is allowing students to make “good progress”. However, as we have also identified, the quality of learning and teaching is not yet consistent in all classes across all year groups.
Teaching, learning and assessment is good throughout Years 12 and 13 with professional relationships between teachers and students being “supportive in helping students to make progress”. Enthusiasm in learning is evident from teachers and students alike and we provide an environment where “students feel very well cared for”. We pride ourselves on small numbers in each year group which ensures “each student is well known to staff”. As a result of this good practice, our Sixth Form is rapidly developing and continues to grow into a thriving learning environment which Ofsted judged to be “good”.
Going forward, as I communicated previously in my Principal’s assemblies and letters to you at the beginning of the year, Learning and Teaching will continue to be a main priority, with training sessions focusing on improving this along with accelerating rates of progress for our students.
We would like to thank all stakeholders, in particular, our parents, carers and staff for the multitude of positive feedback which was received by the inspectors. We remain fully committed to providing a high standard of education for your child(ren) and will strive to ensure the best possible outcomes for all students. It is our aim to keep you involved and fully informed throughout our improvement process.