A Teesside school has been recognised by the education watchdog for turning around its fortunes and fulfilling the learning needs of its students.
Ash Trees Academy in Billingham achieved a “good” rating following its latest inspection by Ofsted – marking a revival at the school since it received a “requires improvement” grade in 2013.
Inspectors commended the school on the quality of teaching, ability to adapt the curriculum to pupil needs, effective safeguarding procedures and strong leadership, which resulted in improved learning outcomes for pupils. The school’s firm commitment to the personal development, behaviour and welfare of the pupils was also noted as a plus point.
Several parents who were spoken to during the inspection gave positive feedback on the performance of Ash Trees, which teaches 154 pupils aged 4-11 with special education needs.
In 2014 the school became part of Ascent Academies’ Trust, joining four other schools to develop a joint vision and strategic plan for special education needs in the region.
Ash Trees said being part of the group had enabled it to tap into different areas of expertise to improve its overall performance.
Head of Academy Wendy Coates said: “We’re tremendously proud of the recent Ofsted rating and it has a lot to do with being part of a multi-academy trust. Our teachers found they could enhance their knowledge and improve the quality of their teaching by working with and learning from others in the group.
“We tightened up our systems and procedures, such as our record keeping, which made it easier to assess how pupils were progressing, deal with any behavioural issues and adapt the curriculum so that it was better suited to pupils’ needs.
Ash Trees has introduced a range of innovative measures to improve the learning experience for pupils, including the provision of occupational therapy services in partnership with Future Steps. This has allowed pupils to participate in sensory-based exercises – such as using specialist equipment to improve posture – to help them hone their coordination and communication skills and boost their confidence and self-esteem.
Nick Hurn, chair of the board of trustees at Ascent, said: “I am thrilled with this tremendous Ofsted report; it’s testament to the hard work and dedication of the academy’s first-class leadership and wonderful staff. It is clear from the comments made by the inspectors that this academy is going from strength to strength and as a trust we’re determined to continue to support and help them in every way we can on their rise to outstanding.”
To find out more about Ascent Academies’ Trust, visit http://www.ascenttrust.org/