As you will know, in May, Workington Academy was inspected by Ofsted. This was our first inspection since the Academy was formed. The report contains some promising feedback and I am writing to share the main findings with you.
The report is thorough and highlights strong leadership as well as the staff’s ‘supportive relationship with pupils’ as factors that will ‘ensure that outcomes for pupils remain on a trajectory of improvement’.The successful Sixth Form and the effectiveness of leadership and management of the school were two particularly notable areas of strength and graded ‘Good’ in the findings. Strong improvements in English and mathematics were also praised in the report.
Ofsted said that ‘leaders’ effective use of additional funding’ is evident in the progress of disadvantaged pupils and is also cited as a strength. The school is deemed highly inclusive, with students who have special educational needs or disabilities reporting that they feel safe and happy.
They also found that the efforts of Workington Academy’s leaders to promote equality and diversity across the school are ‘remarkable’, and that they have been effective in raising standards and outcomes for students.
Overall, Ofsted determined that the school ‘Requires Improvement’, yet I feel that the tone of their detailed report is encouraging and the inspectors’ assessments and analyses are promising.
The inspection looked at several key areas – Effectiveness of leadership and management; Quality of teaching, learning and assessment; Personal development, behaviour, and welfare; outcomes for pupils and 16 to 19 study programmes.
There were some very positive comments made throughout, and I would like to share a snapshot of some of these with you below:
- Effectiveness of leadership and management was judged to be ‘Good’
- The school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is good.
- Sixth Form provision was judged to be ‘Good’
- Pupils feel safe in school and bullying is extremely rare
- The work of all staff to keep pupils safe from harm is described as ‘exemplary’
- The inspectors recognised that the overwhelming majority of pupils behave well during learning and the vast majority move around the school in a calm and orderly manner
- Students studying English and maths at KS4 level are now making similar rates of progress to students nationally and our KS3 students are now also making good progress as they benefit from improvements in teaching
- Ofsted noted that effective careers guidance and support ensured that all Year 13 students continued on to higher education, employment or training
- Ofsted recognised that we have significantly raised expectations and aspirations across the school since it opened in 2015
With scarcely a full term in post myself, I would of course have preferred the inspection to occur once some of the changes I have implemented had begun to make more of an impact.
For all that, I was pleased to read that Ofsted recognised that change is already underway and remarked that I had ‘swiftly identified what aspects of the school require improvement, noting that my ‘plans to improve the school are sharp and precise’ and pupils and staff are positive about my ‘encouraging effect on the school’s culture.’
What is clear, is that we have come a long way since the merger of Southfield Technology College and Stainburn School and Science College, which had both previously been in special measures and judged by Ofsted as inadequate across all categories.
I believe we are moving ever closer to the goal of a ‘Good’ judgment from Ofsted and although there is work still to do, we should be encouraged by the positive tone of this report. In saying that ’despite challenging circumstances, leaders ensure that outcomes for pupils remain on a trajectory of improvement’, Ofsted recognises that we are making good progress.
I am delighted that I am now in a position where I can positively influence the future success of Workington Academy because I know there is the potential for further marked improvement and I can assure all parents and carers that we are well on our way to becoming a great school.
The report will be available on our website from today and on the Ofsted website from around 20 June 2018. If you are unable to access the website, please call our office and we will arrange for a paper copy to be sent to you.
I hope that you will be reassured by the tone of this report and I would like to thank you for your ongoing help and support.
I should also like to end by thanking our amazing students whose appetite for change, thirst for knowledge and sheer enthusiasm for Workington Academy are combining to make it a wonderful place to work and study.
Mr D Bird