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Under-fire Oxford Academy is improving, says Ofsted
A SENSE of “direction and urgency” has been brought in at Oxford Academy since the school went into special measures, Ofsted has said.
The education inspectorate has revisited the Littlemore secondary for the first time since a damning November inspection.
Inspector Mary Massey praised principal David Brown, brought in by school sponsors the Diocese of Oxford in January to make improvements.
The school was placed in special measures due to low attainment and progress, variable teaching quality, and failures in leadership and management.
The only area not judged in-adequate was behaviour, which “required improvement”.
But Ms Massey said: “The new interim executive principal has a clear view of the academy's strengths and weaknesses.
“His initial focus has been on generating capacity within the leadership team, who are now working collaboratively together with a clear sense of purpose.”
Actions have been taken including personalised professional development for teachers, developing their knowledge of syllabuses and exams and clarifying lines of accountability.
Changes to the governing body have included regular meetings between governors and the academy's senior leadership team and a committee structure which gives one group of governors responsibility for monitoring progress against the school's statement of action.
Ms Massey said: “The sponsors have been helpful in providing some extra funding to support provision of a wide range of external consultants to coach and develop staff skills in critical areas such as curriculum expertise and quality of teaching.”
The diocese’s statement of action was described as “tightly and appropriately focused on the key areas for development”.
But she suggested regular measurable milestones to better track progress.
Mr Brown said: “We are very pleased, but it is very early days. I am not going to over-exaggerate a quick visit. “This is a nice first indication that Ofsted have come in and said we have taken the right initial steps and we have taken the steps quite quickly.” Last week we reported Mr Brown’s pledge to bring in extra staff, more training and support for teachers, and extra practice exams.
Academy status means the Sandy Lane West school is no longer under the control of Oxfordshire County Council.
Education cabinet member Melinda Tilley said she was “relieved” by the inspection and confident leaders could “sort it out”.
She said: “It needs quite a bit of work but we can’t afford to be failing young people like that.”
Just 26 per cent of pupils achieved at least five A* to Cs including English and maths in last summer’s GCSEs, against a UK target of 40 per cent.