Ofsted Inspection – Supporting our Programme for School Improvement
As you will know, from Tuesday 23rd to Wednesday 24th May, Leeds East Academy was inspected by HM Office for Standards in Education. Following this inspection, I am pleased to note that Ofsted agreed with our own evaluation of the school in terms of areas of strength and areas for improvement.
Ofsted determined that Leeds East Academy presently requires improvement – a conclusion which the Executive Principal and I also determined when we joined the school last September. The recent Ofsted inspection for me was an important milestone in our journey to be an outstanding school, and I trust you will agree when you read the report that it recognises that following the decisions we have taken, our school and students’ outcomes are now in a phase of rapid, demonstrable improvement.
The strength of our new leadership team, coupled with our programmes for progress, are frequently, positively identified in our Ofsted report. I hereby include some important highlights for your information.
Leeds East Academy’s Strengths:
- The recently appointed Principal and Executive Principal are already having a very positive impact on all areas of school improvement. Crucially, pupils are no longer underachieving.
- Leaders are taking the right steps to improve teaching. As a result, pupils’ attainment in all subjects and year groups is improving.
- Teachers are well supported by the Gorse Academies Trust to improve their teaching & leadership skills.
- Pupils conduct themselves well around the school and in lessons. The school is a safe and caring environment in which pupils show respect for one another.
Effectiveness of Leadership and Management:
- The new Executive Principal and Principal are already raising pupils’ aspirations and improving standards. Staff and pupils are inspired by their determination to improve pupils’ progress rapidly.
- Leaders have now addressed [curriculum] weaknesses. The curriculum is now well-planned and tailored to the needs of different groups of pupils so that they can be more successful. A range of extra-curricular opportunities are also available to encourage pupils to increase their skills and confidence to try new experiences.
- Recent improvements in subject leadership are improving the progress of current pupils in Mathematics and Science. For example, in Mathematics, the curriculum is developing pupils’ reasoning and problem-solving skills. Improved planning and practical lessons in Science are engaging pupils in discovering new information.
- The Principal and Executive Principal identify the areas of the school’s work which require rapid improvement accurately. They have taken decisive action to eliminate inadequate teaching and learning through rigorous monitoring of teachers’ performance and pupils’ progress. Consequently, current pupils in the school are making much faster progress than in the past.
- Leaders have been successful in creating a positive working atmosphere. Pupils show high levels of respect for each other and are increasingly aware of the desire of staff for them to succeed. Higher expectations of behaviour, attendance and the way in which pupils present their work are helping pupils to value their education.
Quality of teaching, learning and assessment:
- Pupils now have regular opportunities to write in lessons and practice the skills they need for examinations.
- Most teachers set high expectations of pupils and homework tasks are now set regularly. Pupils use the study support available during lunchtimes and ‘Session 6’, after school hours, to improve their learning. Therefore, pupils are beginning to develop stronger learning habits.
- Relationships between staff and pupils are very positive. Well-considered routines at the start of lessons mean that little learning time is lost. Pupils show resilience when completing tasks because teachers have higher expectations of them than in the recent past.
Outcomes for Students:
- As a result of stronger leadership and improvements in teaching, current pupils in the school are making much better progress from their starting points and standards are rising.
- Leaders recognised [weaknesses around 2015 and 2016 outcomes for disadvantaged pupils] and have successfully re-allocated additional funding to support disadvantaged pupils more effectively. Improved attendance and attitudes to learning are leading to much better outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in the current Year 10 and 11.
- Leaders have introduced a range of interventions to support [SEN] pupils more effectively. Some creative ‘therapy’ sessions led by school staff, and specialist teaching in speech and language, help to overcome the academic and emotional barriers to pupils’ learning.
- In other year groups, there is also strong evidence in pupils’ current work that they are making much better progress. Pupils are now set challenging targets that are based on them making greater than expected progress. These targets are encouraging pupils to work harder. For younger pupils, changes to the curriculum and higher expectations have had more time to make a difference.
- In both Mathematics and Science, current pupils are making better progress than in the past... Teaching is now checked more regularly and teachers are being supported to improve their practice. Leaders are making sure that the curriculum is more stimulating. Pupils now understand the more complex concepts in Science.
Feedback from our school community has also demonstrated the impact of our programmes for improvement. Staff and pupils were overwhelmingly positive about the changing culture of the school. Several staff commented on the ways in which we are “rapidly improving.” Comments such as, “It is a privilege to work here,” that the Principal’s vision is “clear, aspirational and inspirational” and “I am proud to work for the students who come here” were typical. Students also spoke about the positive effect of recent changes and their views were well summed-up by one who said: “I like how our school is on a journey and it will get there.”
For expanded details from the Ofsted report, which also focuses on our high standards of safeguarding, rigorous governance and progressive welfare and personal development, please visit www.leedseastacademy.org.uk/ofsted-report-2017.
May I take this opportunity to thank you for your support throughout this transformative year, which marks the beginning of an exciting journey for Leeds East Academy and the wider community. Together, we’re making remarkable progress towards our ultimate goal of becoming an outstanding school by 2020.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Academy if you have any further queries regarding our Ofsted inspection, or any other matter.
Printer-friendly versions of Mr Stokes' letters are also available in PDF format in Letters Home.