Progress overshadowed by academy’s poor exam results

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Poor exam results have over-shadowed progress made at Sir Robert Woodard Academy.

The academy, in Sompting, underwent a two-day inspection in December by a team from Ofsted and the findings were published on January 13. In her report, lead inspector Clare Gillies rated the academy as ‘requires improvement’ but noted the work carried out by principal Peter Midwinter to bring his school up to scratch.

In 2015, only 45 per cent of students at Sir Robert Woodard achieved five or more A*-C grade GCSEs, including English and maths.

Ms Gillies described results in maths and science as particularly low, adding: “The percentage of high grades was well below average because the most able pupils were not challenged enough.”

The figures were an improvement on 2014’s result of 41.88 per cent but Ms Gillies said the academy needed to raise standards in all year groups to enable the results to increase further.

She acknowledged Mr Midwinter had “achieved a great deal” in the two years since the academy’s previous inspection and added: “Having been in post several months before the previous inspection, the principal already knew what needed to be done to develop excellence in the academy’s work. It took a while to tackle inadequate teaching or behaviour and to appoint enthusiastic specialist subject leaders and teachers.”

Ms Gillies acknowledged Mr Midwinter’s success in eliminating inadequate teaching and said a ‘strong and effective’ leadership team had been established.

She reported that, until September 2015, too much teaching had failed to generate good learning; while assessments of pupils’ progress had been inaccurate.

Since the academy’s last inspection, a number of new teachers had been appointed to under-performing subjects and were seen to be “already generating better progress”.

The improvements were reflected in comments from sixth-formers, who had experienced weak teaching in the past. They particularly noted progress in the teaching of science.

The report highlighted the need for further improvement in teaching as some lessons were seen to be directed at middle-ability pupils, leaving low attainers to struggle while more able children were not challenged enough.

In addition, teachers were judged not to be commenting enough on the presentation of students’ work. This meant the handwriting and work of some children – especially boys – was not good.

Commenting on the report, Paul Kennedy, the new CEO of Woodard Academies Trust, which runs the academy, said: “While the report highlights many favourable aspects of life at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy, there are still areas that require improvement notably the quality of teaching, learning, assessment and the outcomes for pupils.

“Considerable progress has been made over the last two years since the previous report but with a new team in place at Woodard Academies Trust and a commitment from our sponsor, Woodard Schools to increase shared learning and resources across all their academies, we are expecting to make considerable progress in the areas outlined.

“We believe that every child has the right and deserves the very best education and this is what we’re aiming to deliver at Sir Robert Woodard.

“The leadership team and the academy council have all been recognised in the report for their professionalism and effectiveness.

“We know we are making progress and are now keen to maintain the momentum and deliver the results expected.”

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