Academy placed in special measures after ‘inadequate’ grading by Ofsted

COPLEY Academy has been put into special measures by the government after a damning Ofsted report following an inspection in October.

Copley Academy, Stalybridge

Copley’s overall effectiveness was described as ‘inadequate’ and the same word was used for each of the four inspection categories – effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare; outcomes for pupils.

Copley, which has 688 students, was also in the worst 10 per cent of schools in the country when it came to helping disadvantaged pupils and those with special education needs and disabilities.

And the report concluded: “Her Majesty’s chief inspector is of the opinion that this school requires special measures because it is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school.”

A summary of the key findings for parents and pupils revealed the school had deteriorated markedly since the last inspection in May 2016 when the school’s overall effectiveness was ‘requires improvement’.

The reasons why Copley was identified as an ‘inadequate’ school were:

• Leaders have failed to address the areas for improvement highlighted in the previous inspection report.

Governors and trustees have provided insufficient challenge to halt the school’s decline.

• Over the past three years, rates of overall absence and persistent absence have been above the national average.

• The school does not prepare pupils sufficiently for their next steps.

• Examination results in 2018 were very weak. Many current pupils, including in year 11, are still making poor progress.

• Many pupils do not engage well enough with their learning. Some pupils lose concentration or chat in class. This usually happens when teachers do not plan learning activities that engage or inspire learners.

• Middle leadership is weak. Many middle leaders have been in post for a number of years. They have not made a positive difference to the quality of teaching or pupils’ outcomes in their departments.

•The school’s and the trust’s improvement plans are not sharp enough. Recent improvements have not been sufficiently rapid or widespread.

• The curriculum does not meet the needs of pupils.

• Over time, leaders’ use of the pupil premium has not improved outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.

• The quality of teaching is inadequate. Teachers have low expectations of their pupils. They do not use questioning effectively to check pupils’ understanding or to provide clear explanations to help pupils learn, including disadvantaged pupils and those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, are making.

The inspectors identified, however, the following strengths:

• Senior leaders have an accurate view of the school’s strengths and its areas for improvement. The principal is taking action to deal with the most pressing issues.

• Safeguarding is effective. Pupils are well cared for and safe.

Current principal Sarah Gregory took up her post in January 2018 and has “quickly taken effective steps to stabilise staffing and to begin to address underperformance at all levels across the school”.

The report continued: “Despite these positive changes, the principal and her new senior leadership team were unable to reverse pupils’ declining achievement. Year 11 pupils’ weak progress meant that attainment fell further in 2018.”

The report sets out what the school needs to do to improve. It stated it must “urgently improve the quality of teaching across the school”, the curriculum provides suitable levels of challenge for pupils, rapidly improve the attendance of all pupils and leaders must have much greater impact on pupils’ achievement.

An external review of governance should be undertaken to see how this aspect of leadership and management can be improved along with a review of the school’s use of the pupil premium.

Mrs Gregory said: “As principal of Copley Academy, I absolutely acknowledge our responsibility to provide a good education to all our students.

“The Academy has undergone many changes in the last 18 months, but I firmly believe we are now in a stronger position to improve.

“The Ofsted report acknowledges that we know ourselves well; we have an accurate view of where we are now and a vision of where we want to be; we are clear about everyone’s roles and responsibilities when it comes to making it happen.

“The report clearly lays out the key findings, both in terms of strengths and areas for development; these are all areas in which work was already being done and will of course continue.

“There is a continuing journey ahead with lots of hard work required to ensure we are delivering the best possible outcomes for every young person Copley Academy serves.

“With the ongoing support of the Great Academies Education Trust, staff and students, as well as the Copley community, I know our school will gain ground and that positive changes will occur rapidly.

“I remain committed to driving the much-needed change at Copley Academy.

“I look forward to a new, stronger school and to the future as principal of an outstanding Copley Academy.

“In short, Copley is moving forward in the spirit of, ‘Yes we can, and we must.’”

Allison Crompton, CEO of Great Academies Education Trust, said “The Ofsted report was disappointing. We share the dismay of parents.

“Copley pupils deserve a good standard of education and we absolutely acknowledge that we must do better to serve the needs of all our children at Copley Academy.

“We have made significant changes. We have a completely new leadership team to lead the academy, a new governance structure and the Trust Board has new directors.

“The report acknowledges the impact of the new principal and we are confident that Sarah Gregory and her team can rapidly improve the academy.

“I would like to thank all the parents who continue to support us and help us improve and all the students who are working with us.”

A Tameside Council spokesman said: “We were disappointed to hear that Copley Academy had been judged inadequate.

“The school has new leadership since the start of this calendar year who Ofsted recognised have a clear vision for the school.

“We are working with the academy trust and supporting them in their efforts to rapidly bring about improvement.”

• Copley Academy is part of the Great Academies Education Trust which runs three other schools in Tameside and Rochdale: Great Academy Ashton, Silver Springs Primary Academy in Stalybridge and Middleton Technology School.

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