Ofsted Report 2017
Supporting our Programme for School Improvement
On Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th May 2017, Leeds East Academy was inspected by HM Office for Standards in Education.
Mr Stokes, Principal, said: "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 the Academy's new leadership team, coupled with the school's Journey to Outstanding programme, has been positively identified in our Ofsted report.
The school has the following strengths:
- 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 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 and 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 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 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 school spends pupil premium funding judiciously on a range of interventions to accelerate the progress of disadvantaged pupils. Leaders now monitor this use of this funding well and the attendance of disadvantaged pupils, although still too low, is improving markedly. Their progress is also improving steadily.
- Similarly, leaders use the additional funding for pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities to provide carefully considered interventions to meet pupils’ emotional and academic needs. Consequently, pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities attend more regularly and make better progress than they have done in the recent past.
- The recently appointed 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.
- The school’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural programme is carefully planned and delivered through coaching sessions, assemblies and ‘drop-down’ days as well as through all subjects. Pupils talk confidently about a wide range of topics, for example online safety, cultural differences within Europe, personal identity, drugs education and funding for the National Health Service. Resources for these sessions are well prepared centrally to provoke debate, encouraging pupils to form their own opinions.
- Careers guidance is well co-ordinated. Pupils have access to impartial advice and are well-supported to make appropriate choices for further education, training and employment. As a result, pupils have a clear understanding of the pathways they can follow after Year 11.
- External support from The Gorse Academies Trust has been well received by teachers and leaders. Subject leaders report that partnership working with other schools has improved their skills in checking teaching and pupils’ progress. All staff have access to a well-planned programme of professional development, resulting in stronger teaching across the school.
- 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.
- Staff and pupils are overwhelmingly positive about the changing culture of the school. Several staff commented on the ways in which they believe the school is ‘rapidly improving’. Comments such as ‘It is a privilege to work here.’ `The principal’s vision is ‘clear, aspirational and inspirational’; and ‘I am proud to work for the students who come here’ were typical. Pupils also talked 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.’
Governance of the school:
- The local governing body, known as the Local Accountability Board (LAB), did not provide appropriate challenge to school leaders in the recent past but this is changing.
- The chair of the LAB is also a trustee. He is knowledgeable about governors’ responsibilities and, with the support of the executive principal, has made some effective changes this year to the way in which governors hold leaders to account. Increasingly, governors are beginning to ask challenging questions of leaders. For example, they have requested regular updates on behaviour and attendance. They oversee the use of the pupil premium funding rigorously…
- Governors have recently reviewed their responsibilities and now have a more detailed understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement.
- The governors monitor the school’s safeguarding procedures well.
Quality of teaching, learning and assessment:
- Pupils now have regular opportunities to write in lessons and practise 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.
Personal development, behaviour and welfare:
- Pupils said they feel safe in the school. They are helped to stay safe in different situations through a well-organised series of assemblies and tutorial sessions which explore topics such as online safety, how to stay healthy, and the threat of terrorist and extremist activities.
- Pupils are aware of the different types of bullying, particularly racist bullying and homophobic bullying. The number of bullying incidents reported this year has reduced. Pupils say that staff deal with any bullying quickly. They are very positive about the support given to them by teachers and other staff.
- Pupils who are educated in alternative provision off-site benefit from a high level of support. Leaders keep careful records which show that their behaviour, attendance and progress are improving.
- School leaders know the local community well and work hard to engage parents. The school also works effectively with other local agencies in housing, social care and health, taking great care to work closely with pupils who are vulnerable and with their families. The work of the family liaison officer and behaviour support workers is leading to a marked improvement in some pupils’ attendance and behaviour.
Outcomes for pupils:
- …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. There are early signs that these new approaches are improving the attendance, behaviour and progress of pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities.
- Pupils who speak English as an additional language make good progress from their starting points because they are given specialist support to help them to be successful.
- Leaders have taken decisive action to prioritise well-planned intervention and effective teaching for the current Year 11 pupils and their progress is tracked closely. They have been well-prepared for their examinations and show a growing confidence to tackle examination questions, through activities that the school calls ‘red zone tasks’. This years’ Year 11 pupils are on track to do better across the subjects they study than pupils in Year 11 last year.
- 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... Recent changes in leadership are making a positive difference. 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.