The quality of Excelsior Academy’s achievements and provision for pupils were recognised by Ofsted during its latest inspection of the school.
Inspectors highlighted good pupil behaviour “in an orderly, calm and safe environment”, praised the academy’s leadership and management which promotes “a culture of kindness, respect and tolerance” and “astute” governors and trustees who “provide strong support and challenge to leaders.”
The academy’s senior leadership team has launched an immediate action plan to ensure the quality of all its teaching and outcomes for pupils matches the strengths identified in school by Ofsted inspectors.
The overall effectiveness of the 1,500 pupil academy was judged as ‘Requires Improvement’ following the Ofsted inspection last month.
While the majority of teaching observed by inspectors was good, a small proportion was found to be inconsistent and not enough of the most able pupils reached the standards they are capable of.
Craig Taylor, Excelsior Academy Executive Principal, said: “I am extremely proud of the success we have achieved in our first ten years at Excelsior Academy – we have a lot of good and outstanding practice here and we are working hard to eradicate that which isn’t to bring everyone up to the same high standard.
“There are far more positives than negatives in the report; 80% of the comments are positive and recognise the good work that goes on at Excelsior Academy.”
Leadership and management, pupil personal development, behaviour and welfare, Early Years provision and 16 to 19 study were all rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted inspectors during their two-day assessment.
Their report identifies some of Excelsior Academy’s strengths as:
- Leaders with high expectations of all pupils and staff, passionate about giving pupils opportunities to learn and achieve their very best
- Early Years learning enjoys good leadership. Children learn in a “warm and nurturing environment,” which is “stimulating, exciting and bursting with activity and learning, and because of this, children make good progress.
- Leaders in 16 to 19 study programmes are “totally committed to securing the best outcomes for learners” with highly individual study programmes tailored to student needs
- A comprehensive range of training and support for staff is helping to quickly bring about improvements in teaching
- Pupils in most classes show a real interest in their learning and are committed to working hard
- A broad and balanced curriculum
- Pupils new to English being helped to make rapid progress
- Inspectors saw harmonious relationships across the whole academy with pupils and teachers treating each other with mutual respect.
Craig added: “Standards have improved at Excelsior Academy year-on-year since we opened ten years ago – less than six months ago we were given an educational outcomes award for producing GCSE results that put us in the top ten per cent of schools nationally.
“While the overall Ofsted rating is disappointing, the report didn’t highlight anything that we weren’t already aware of.
“Our action plan is precise and focussed on the areas highlighted in the report, to ensure that all teaching is consistently good.
“There is only a small amount of the report which highlights areas where we need to make improvement and we are confident we can achieve that.
“We have a very diverse and complex cohort of children at Excelsior which means that teachers here have to work extremely hard to plan to meet the needs of every single student. It is a real challenge but we are all committed to do all we can to support the achievement of all our learners.”
Excelsior Academy is an ‘all through’ academy educating pupils from aged 3 to 19. More than half its pupils are from ethnic groups other than White British and English is a secondary language for 49% of its students. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is over 30% of the academy – well above the national average.
In its last Ofsted inspection in January 2013, Excelsior was rated as ‘Good’ overall.
To read the full Ofsted report, go to http://excelsiornewcastle.org.uk/academy-information/ofsted/