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Report welcomes ‘positive and ambitious culture’ at St Peter’s Academy

·         Ofsted inspection took place 31 January – 1 February 2017

·         St Peter’s Academy no longer requires special measures

·         Principal and senior team already working on further improvements

Summary

St Peter’s Academy, in Fenton, has successfully come out of ‘special measures’ following an Ofsted inspection earlier this month. According to the report ‘The Principal, with the support of his reshaped senior team, has transformed this school. It now has a positive and ambitious cuture’.

Principal, Michael Astley, who took on the role in September 2015, is pleased with the vast improvements that have already been made but believes there is still a great deal of work to be done: “We are really pleased to be moving in the right direction but acknowledge that there is still a long way to go. The report highlights some major improvements, which is testament to the hard work of our pupils, parents and staff. This is only the beginning of our journey. I am passionate about raising standards of achievement, committed to continual improvement and believe all students are capable of achieving success.”

The most recent report, which will be officially released on Monday 27 February, highlights some of the strengths at St Peters:

·         There is some teaching of a very high quality

·         Rates of progress have improved considerably

·         Pupils’ behaviour is much improved

·         Levels of attendance are increasing

·         Safeguarding is effective

·         Pupils’ personal development and welfare are effectively supported

·         Pupils are well prepared for life in modern Britain

·         Fundamental British values are actively promoted

·         Spiritual, moral, social and cultural awareness are well developed

·         This is an improving school

The report also outlines what the school needs to do to improve further:

·         Embed, evaluate and develop the relatively new systems and structures so that they have the maximum impact on improving pupils’ outcomes

·         Ensure that assessment information is accurate and used to inform planning for learning

·         Ensure that all subject leaders are driving improvements in their areas of responsibility

·         Ensure that the teaching consistently matches the standard of the best practice that can be found in the school

·         Improve pupils’ attendance

Michael Astley said: “We are really driving improvement, focusing on teaching and learning, marking, behaviour for learning, attendance, tracking and intervention, safeguarding and results. We will use the feedback from the Ofsted report constructively and will work hard to continue our progress.

“The Ofsted report provides a grade for four key areas and we are particularly pleased to have received a ‘Good’ grading for Personal development, behaviour and welfare.”

Leadership

Major improvements are underway but have not had time to make a full impact yet. Ofsted reported:

·         The principal has taken decisive action to improve the school. The leadership team has been reshaped and all the areas for improvement identified at the time of the last inspection have been addressed, although some have been addressed more successfully than others.

·         Leaders have successful strategies in place to build on improvements already evident in the quality of teaching, pupils’ progress, attendance and behaviour.

·         Leaders are positive and ambitious for pupils and staff. This is creating an aspirational culture at St Peter’s Academy.

·         Staff value the tailored training and support that they receive and this is having a positive impact on the standard of education the school is providing. Staff feel motivated and appreciated.

·         The school has a strong set of values. Pupils are treated fairly and prejudiced behaviour, which is extremely rare, is challenged. Pupils are respectful and tolerant of others.

·         Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is a strength of the school.

·         Parents are becoming increasingly supportive of the work of the school. Communication has improved and the recently commissioned parental survey was extremely positive about all aspects of the school’s provision.

Michael Astley said: “We are committed to developing leadership at all levels and producing lifelong learners, by nurturing self-esteem and promoting independence. We use student assessment data to drive improvement and address underperformance, through bespoke interventions. We also recognise and reward all students who deserve it, regardless of their starting point.”

Behaviour

Ofsted feedback on personal development, behaviour and welfare was particularly positive:

·         The behaviour of pupils is good. They are considerate and respectful, and enjoy positive relationships with adults and other pupils.

·         The ‘Behaviour for Learning Framework’ has had a significant impact on improving behaviour. It provides clear guidance and structures for managing behaviour and is understood by staff, pupils and parents.

·         Pupils behave well in lessons and low-level disruption to learning is rare.

·         Pupils usually listen very carefully to staff and their classmates, and respond quickly if they have to be reminded to concentrate fully on their studies.

·         Pupils from all year groups value the rewards system that the School Council helped to develop.

·         Pupils from different backgrounds mix freely within a cohesive school community.

·         Pupils spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is strongly promoted.

Michael Astley said: “There is an ethos of Christianity and faith and the needs of students are catered for in a safe, yet challenging, environment. Everything we do at St Peter’s is to give our students the best possible life chances when they leave us, both academically and by instilling a sense of moral purpose. A strong pastoral system highlights our expectations and enables students to learn, make the right choices and receive the best support with their education.”

A house system was launched in June 2016, embracing the pottery heritage of the area, with Spode, Bridgewater, Wedgwood and Gladstone making up the four houses.

More ‘Celebrating Success” evenings have been introduced to the academy calendar, inviting parents and family members to share in the success of pupils. ‘Attitude to Learning’ grades reward positive attitudes and the Student Council has been given a budget to choose prizes that are relevant to the pupils.

Teaching

The latest Ofsted report included positive feedback on the improvements in teaching:

·         There is now some teaching of a very high quality in the school and leaders have provided opportunities for the best practice to be shared.

·         Pupils are keen to learn and want to do well. Teachers and pupils enjoy positive relationships.

·         Literacy skills are routinely developed across the curriculum and this is having an impact on improved progress in English.

New Heads of English, Maths and special educational needs and disability (SEND) have been in post since January 2016 and Heads of Year have become ‘raising standard leaders’ with a clear focus on academic progress, tracking and intervention.

Michael Astley said: “Our core values are determination, ambition, respect and trust and I expect this of all my students and staff. We relentlessly focus on improving teaching, so that it engenders infectious enthusiasm for learning amongst the students. We ensure they feel engaged and inspired and can benefit from our vibrant learning environment and impressive resources.

“We now need to work on consistency in the quality of our teaching and making sure that we are tailoring the level of challenge to our students appropriately.”

Outcomes for Students

The Ofsted report stated:

·         As the quality of teaching is improving, systems and structures are beginning to embed and the culture of the school has been transforming, pupils currently in the school are making better progress than at any time since the academy was formed.

·         Disadvantaged pupils currently in the school are making faster progress than this group made in the past.

·         Pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities made slow progress in the past. However, as a result of the effective leadership of the special educational needs coordinator (SENCo), better identification of need and targeted support and intervention, this group of pupils are making improved progress across the school.

In terms of student outcomes, Progress 8 improved in 2016 for every pupil group and overall by an impressive 0.43 (around half a grade per student), when compared to 2015. Progress 8 for English improved by 0.57 (over half a grade) and Progress 8 for Maths improved by 0.23 (around a quarter of a grade).

Both attendance and attainment have greatly improved. Every year group’s attendance is superior to the previous year, Year 11 has increased by 2% and Year 9 by over 4%.

Michael Astley said: “We have already put a lot of work into improving leadership, teaching and behaviour and our hope is that this work is now going to improve results for our students. We are focused on improving progress for disadvantaged pupils and have recently introduced a number of measures to ensure that high-prior-attaining pupils reach their full potential.”

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