SENIOR school managers have won high praise from Her Majesty’s inspectors for the impact they have made on an academy that is now on the rise.
St Aidan’s Academy, Darlington, no longer a school with ‘serious weaknesses’ or requires ‘significant improvement’, according to Ofsted’s chief inspector.
His inspection team rated as ‘good’ the principal Nicole Gibbon and her new senior leadership team as the school transforms its fortunes.
The report stated: “In a very short time, the new principal has made a massive difference to the quality of education that the academy offers.
“She is passionate about being able to provide pupils with the best possible quality of education and ensure that they all reach their full potential.
“In a very short space of time she has ensured that behaviour, teaching and pupils progress have all improved.”
Inspectors recognised that Mrs Gibbon had challenged effectively weak teaching and appointed a senior team of good calibre.
“Improvements are tangible, fast and appreciated by the pupils,” the report stated. “Intended improvements materialise quickly because managers check the quality of teaching and pupils’ progress with relentless efficiency.
“The academy’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is good. The infectious enthusiasm of the principal rubs off on to members of staff at all levels of seniority…staff morale is good.”
Inspectors also praised the involvement of governors, stating they “play a full role in ensuring the academy continues to improve at a fast pace”. Inspectors also highlighted that the current Year 11 were already doing much better than the previous cohort and were on track for much better GCSE results.
The report said that Year 7-10 pupils were also performing better in most subject areas. Teaching was improving rapidly and there was a fair degree of good and occasionally outstanding teaching that was helping accelerate progress, particularly in English, maths and science.
Pupil progress was scrutinised carefully and under-achievement identified immediately triggering early intervention. Attendance had also improved substantially and pupil attainment was on the rise.
The report also highlighted the “good provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral and cultural development that is skilfully embedded into the curriculum and extra-curricular activities”.
Inspectors said the academy prepared its students well for life and they could speak with confidence about Christian values, democracy, other religions and the dangers of radicalisation. Year 11 students were clear about the post-16 pathways and courses they intended following.
Mrs Gibbon said: “Staff and students have worked ceaselessly to reach this point – but this is just the start.
“Staff, governors, pupils and parents now have one goal and that is the relentless pursuit of reaching outstanding.
“That is the culture that now pervades St Aidan’s Academy and it is why everyone involved is proud to be associated with a school that lies at the very heart of the community.”