Welcome to Gloucester Academy.
I took on the leadership of Gloucester Academy from September 2015. I am really excited about the opportunity of working closely with our students, our team of staff and with parents to accelerate our journey of improvement. My school leadership is all about an unshakeable belief that, through commitment and effort and great teaching, all children can succeed.
I moved from King’s Oak Academy in Bristol, part of the Cabot Learning Federation of schools, where I was Principal for 4 years. This academy has rapidly improved, was judged GOOD by Ofsted and is now significantly oversubscribed. I have seen at first hand how working within a family or Federation of schools can drive up standards and make a difference to the lives of children. Previously I was Deputy Headteacher at Highworth Warneford School in Swindon I was part of the team which led the school to become “outstanding”. As Secondary Strategy Director of The White Horse Federation I work closely with other Secondary Principals to ensure that all children in a White Horse Federation Secondary have a excellent school experience.
Effectiveness of leadership and management (Quote from last 2 Ofsted reports)
The current principal took up the post in September 2015. He has brought strong leadership to the school and his high ambitions for pupils have been transmitted throughout the school. Crucially, he has established stability in a school which has had eleven principals and acting principals in less than six years. There has been a transformation of culture through high expectations of leaders and teachers.
The principal has brought about rapid improvements and has very high expectations of pupils and staff. He has established positive relationships in all parts of the school, lifting the morale and self-confidence of staff and pupils. Standards of teaching and behaviour have improved, and pupils are now making more rapid progress than in recent years.
The school’s leadership team has been reorganised and much has been done to strengthen the leadership of teaching. There is new leadership of mathematics, secured through the sponsors, and this has had a very positive impact on progress of pupils in the subject. Leadership of the sixth form has also been improved.
The improvements made so far have engendered a desire to improve further throughout the school; there is high capacity for accelerating the rate of progress and the impact on pupils’ learning.
Governors provide strong support to the school and also challenge the school to improve further.
They gather evidence about the quality of provision by making regular visits to the school. Governors are confident that they have a good understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses. They have reviewed and transformed the way they operate, taking advice from the sponsors and other advisers.
Quality of teaching, learning and assessment (Quote from last 2 Ofsted reports)
The quality of teaching is improving and there is considerable good practice to build on. The academy has introduced a strong framework for what good and better teaching looks like. This has been supported well by focused training for teachers. Teachers’ morale and confidence are much improved. Encouragingly, the impact of good teaching on students’ progress and quality of work was seen in lessons across a wide range of subjects including English, mathematics, science, geography, history and languages. This provides a secure basis for further improvement. Teaching assistants are deployed well in these lessons. They are actively involved in supporting a range of students to learn well.
The quality of Year 7 students’ work in the ‘new basics’ projects is often high. This curriculum establishes basic skills, such as literacy and enquiry techniques, very well.
Teachers mostly mark students’ work regularly and frequently and often provide them with useful feedback.
In lessons for older pupils, a lot of attention is given to helping pupils to understand exactly what is required of them in examinations including clear explanation of assessment criteria and how marks are awarded; pupils told inspectors that they found this helpful and reassuring. Tasks which pupils complete outside of lessons, including homework, are helping to improve pupils’ progress. The school provides pupils with very good access to computers and other resources so that they may complete these tasks after formal lessons finish
Stronger teaching engages pupils’ interest and the activities proceed at a pace which develops and consolidates learning quickly but securely. There is good evidence to show that the school is now giving more emphasis to developing the most-able pupils. For example, Year 10 pupils were observed working at high levels of challenge and aiming for the highest grades in science.
Personal development, behaviour and welfare (Quote from last 2 Ofsted reports)
The improvement in students’ behaviour is marked. They are overwhelmingly positive about the changes made by the Principal and many now enjoy coming to school and their lessons. The achievement of such improvement in such a short period of time is testament to the impact of the new Principal and the support from senior and middle leaders. The new behaviour system is very effective but is already being reviewed to raise expectations further, particularly regarding its impact on raising students’ achievement. The academy is an impressively calm and orderly place at all times. It has a very diverse population of students but it is a harmonious and fully inclusive community where all are respected and valued. The main priority for academy leaders is how to improve students’ attendance and reduce persistent absence further; they know this and have set challenging targets.
The school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is good.
Pupils have a good understanding about what constitutes discriminatory behaviour and bullying. They get on well together. Pupils told inspectors that only very occasionally are there minor problems, which the school deals with quickly and effectively. Pupils and parents confirmed the school’s records which show that instances of bullying or prejudiced behaviour are rare. There is good understanding by pupils of how to keep themselves safe, for example when using the internet. Pupils know how to avoid risks to health such as substance abuse.
Around the school, pupils conduct themselves well: in the corridors, open spaces and dining area there is good order with minimal supervision being necessary.
The school has worked hard to build pupils’ self-confidence and this is prompting a belief in improved opportunities for adult life. Pupils have been encouraged to be organised, with the correct equipment for lessons as a starting point for taking greater responsibility for themselves. This is seen as good practice for adult responsibilities.
We are proud of the international feel of the academy, and our local community links are also really important to us. Our New Basics curriculum in Yr7 has strong links with developing countries, and we also support local charities each year. We aspire to be a global school at the heart of our local community. We have strong links with a range of our partner primary schools, and this helps our Year 6 students make a smooth transition. Through our website, I hope you will gain a feeling of the Academy and the support that we give to every individual student. I want this Academy to be the best that we can be for all of our children, and through a strong programme of continuous improvement we are achieving this.
If you are interested in visiting us then simply contact the Academy office for us to arrange a tour. We would love to hear from you!
Radio Glos Interview