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Academy improvement praised - but more work still needed, say inspectors

PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 19:13 04 January 2019

Felixstowe Academy looks set to be taken over by Unity Schools Partnership Picture: KATY SANDALLS

Felixstowe Academy looks set to be taken over by Unity Schools Partnership Picture: KATY SANDALLS

Archant

More work is needed to improve the progress of boys and special educational needs (SEN) pupils at a Suffolk academy, inspectors have said.

Despite these concerns Ofsted inspectors believed that overall “effective action” was being made at Felixstowe Academy as it strives leave special measures, which it was placed into in November 2017.

The visit was the second to monitor the progress being made by the academy, which is set to be rebrokered from the Academy Enterprise Trust in due course.

Overall inspectors were largely happy with the progress being made at the school, with the report noting that the number of bullying incidents had reduced while pupils also feel that behaviour in lessons had improved and that they felt they were making better progress.

The inspectors praised the leadership at the school, describing it as “focused” and adding that it had a “shared vision for the school’s development”.

Responses from parents to Ofsted’s questionnaire also reflected “a more positive view of the school” than last year, with all who responded feeling that their child was safe at the academy.

However, Ofsted felt that “there remains work to be done to change parents’ perceptions”.

Ofsted also remained concerned about the level of pupil absences at the academy.

It also called for more work to be done to help boys whose progress it described as “significantly weaker” than girls. It added that outcomes for disadvantaged and SEN students were still “too low”.

The report highlighted the external support that the school had been receiving from Eastwood Academy in Leigh-on-Sea.

The two schools have been linked since September.

School principal, Anthony Williams, said that Eastwood “knew the journey” that Felixstowe had to take.

Overall Mr Williams said that he was pleased with the report but understood that changes still needed to be made, with staff focusing on areas such as pupil progress.

“We are totally focused on improving in all areas to ensure the quality of provision and outcomes are the best they possibly can be.”

He added there had been a “paradigm shift” in attitudes at the school with children wanting to be successful.

A further monitoring visit will take place in the spring term.

Julian Drinkall, chief executive of AET said: “We are very pleased with Ofsted’s endorsement of the changes that we have made at Felixstowe. The academy has undoubtedly had a challenging past, but this report really shows just how far the school has come, and the huge strides they are making. Results improved last summer, and we anticipate another step up in next year’s results.

“Perhaps even more important though than Ofsted’s view is that parents are also endorsing the school. The majority of them now say they would recommend Felixstowe Academy to another parent – this is a huge turnaround from survey that took place when Ofsted visited last November.

“Everyone is working at full tilt at Felixstowe Academy and the hard work is starting to pay off. We are 100% committed to turning this school around, and today’s report makes for very encouraging reading that we are now well on our way to doing just that. At AET we are committed to all of our academies providing an education that helps every student go on to lead a remarkable life. That is our promise to local families and we will continue to everything in our power to deliver that in Felixstowe.”

David Hatchett, AET’s national director of secondary schools said: “This latest monitoring visit from Ofsted shows that the actions we are taking as a trust, alongside the work of academy leaders, is really making a difference where it matters - in the classrooms at Felixstowe Academy. Students feel safe, are making better progress and are being taught increasingly well. I congratulate and say thank you to leaders, staff, students and governors who have contributed to the improvements that Ofsted note in their latest report. AET is committed in continuing to support the academy on its journey out of special measures to Good as soon as possible.”

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