SMALLER class sizes, tailored literacy and math lessons and expert teachers are helping to turn around the fortunes of a struggling school.

The Oxford Academy now has five specialist maths tutors to drive improvements in the subject after it was highlighted as an area of weakness by Ofsted.

Ofsted placed the academy, in Sandy Lane West, Littlemore, in special measures in January 2013 with inspectors singling out pupils’ progress in maths and English as well below average.

Since then, five follow-up inspections have taken place, with the latest one from the education watchdog saying “reasonable progress” has been made at the 1,200-pupil on academy.

The report, published on Thursday, followed an inspection in July.

Niall McWilliams, who was drafted in as principal from Carterton Community College in March to spearhead improvements, welcomed the latest report but said there was still work to do to get out of special measures.

He said: “To be honest there is still clear room for improvement, particularly in English and maths which is a key Government category.

“This year for the first time we have got five specialist maths teachers – someone with a degree in maths or their second subject is maths.”

Year 11 pupils who sat their GCSEs this year made better progress from their starting points than those in previous years, according to the latest report.

It said the proportion of students who make expected progress is now close to the national average.

Progress had not been as strong in maths though, where there had been “too many staff changes” and not enough consistently good teaching, according to the monitoring report.

Low literacy rates for Year 7 and 8s still held some students back, it added.

But Mr Mc-Williams said the academy would tackle these problems with teaching tailored to individual students’ needs.

This includes cutting English and math class sizes from an average of between 28 and 30 pupils in 2012/13 to about 22 now.

Mr McWilliams said: “That helps because it allows us to get to know the children, their strengths and areas for development so they get more individual tuition.”

For students who need it, one-to-one tuition during lunchtime and after school is also offered.

All pupils now read every day during tutor periods, in English classes, library lessons and in dedicated groups for pupils who are struggling.

Mr McWilliams added: “I would be fibbing if I said we are where we want to be, there’s still room for improvement there’s no doubt about that.

“The staffing is strong, there’s lots of really good strong staff here and they are committed to the students and serving the community, and they don’t intend to go anywhere until the school is a real success.”