A TASKFORCE brought in to transform standards at a troubled school is confident of a rapid turnaround.

The Oxford Academy's interim headteacher David Terry is working with members of the school's new interim academy board to drive forward improvements, following its 'inadequate' Ofsted today.

READ AGAIN: Bombshell report reveals safety failures at Oxford school

He took up post two weeks ago and has experience in intervening at schools in special measures.

In an exclusive interview with the Oxford Mail, Mr Terry said: "To some extent the report reflects the school as it was, and we have definitely moved on [since inspection].

"It's a much calmer environment on site.

"We are focusing on behaviour and a better clarity of expected behaviours.

"We have just had to say 'no' and be assertive, but to say it with love and care."

He said in his experience of other schools, one of the ways of getting 'stuck' or 'rapidly declining' is to shut down communications with parents and put up defensive barriers.

Instead, he stressed the importance of being open.

Every day next week parents will be able to book an appointment with him and talk about their individual concerns, then there will be a parent forum on the following Wednesday.

ALSO READ: Academy's new headteacher writes to parents about changes

Mr Terry said he wanted to celebrate 'amazing' achievements of pupils and promote a better reward culture.

He added: "I've met fantastic students doing great things, but that had become invisible.

"We want to empower students."

Previous head Andy Hardy, who joined in September 2018, officially left the school on December 31 due to 'personal circumstances'.

Governors resigned at a meeting in December.

Mr Terry will be in post until the end of the academic year, and recruitment will start soon for a permanent headteacher to take over.

He is working with staff including a new interim deputy head, and four members of the interim academy board (IAB), which is effectively a team brought in to temporarily replace governors.

A statement from the IAB revealed that the academy had accumulated a financial deficit of more than £1m, but said this was reducing.

One of its members is Tony Wilson, director of education at the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education, which is one of the school's sponsors.

He has previously served interim headships leading schools out of special measures, including one of the Birmingham schools caught up in the Trojan Horse investigation into radicalisation.

Mr Wilson referred to special measures as 'intensive care' for schools and said he was confident of long-term improvements.

He said: "We feel we can be a real shining beacon and a gem in the Oxford education crown."

He highlighted the 'significant time lag' between the inspection and the report being published, and said major improvements had already been made to urgently fix safeguarding issues.

ALSO READ: Head and governors leave The Oxford Academy after Ofsted

Also serving on the IAB is Paul James, chief executive of the River Learning Trust.

The trust runs several successful Oxford schools and has agreed, in principle, to take over The Oxford Academy.

Mr James said he was 'really optimistic' about recruitment of a new permanent head and about the progress the school has already made.

He added: "There is hope for the future, for these kids and for these communities."

The IAB will also be reaching out to parents who have chosen to send their children to The Oxford Academy in September.

Mr James said: "We want to communicate and reassure them that this [report] is the history of the school, it's absolutely not a sense of what it looks like now nor what it will look like in September."

The fourth and final member of the IAB is lecturer Adam White of Oxford Brookes University, which is another of the school's sponsors.

A joint statement from the board said: "Immediate action was taken in response to the concerns identified by Ofsted, and we have already carried out a thorough review of safeguarding.

"Improving attendance of our vulnerable pupils, and our provision for them, has also been a key focus.

"We have adapted the way our leadership team works, recruited an additional senior leader, and appointed a special educational needs coordinator."

Teaching and support staff have also been recruited to fill vacancies in several subjects, reducing the need for as many supply teachers.

The statement added: "Some of the staffing issues we have had to resolve have stemmed from poor governance and past decisions relating to the financial deficit.

"Every member of the IAB is committed to making sure that the education provided by The Oxford Academy transforms the lives and life chances of the children from the wonderful community that it serves."