Ormiston Endeavour Academy in Ipswich removed from special measures and given ‘good’ Ofsted rating

Christine Woods, headteacher at Ormiston Endeavour Academy in Ipswich.

Christine Woods, headteacher at Ormiston Endeavour Academy in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

The former Thurleston High School has been removed from special measures and achieved its highest Ofsted rating for more than 15 years.

The education watchdog has today announced that Ormiston Endeavour Academy, attended by 417 pupils in Defoe Road, has been rated good following an inspection last December.

The school, which reopened as an academy five years ago, was placed in special measures in April 2015. Ofsted criticised “dysfunctional” leadership, a “pedestrian” pace of learning and an “unacceptably high” number of pupils being sent out of class.

Current principal Christine Woods took over and was quickly praised for “galvanising” the school.

Now, less than two years since her appointment, which was spearheaded by the government’s Talented Leaders scheme, the school has been rated ‘good’ for the first time since a 2001 Ofsted inspection described the school as “effective” with “very good features”. Overall ratings were introduced by Ofsted in 2003.

Students no longer treat being removed from class as a “badge of honour” and the quality of teacher has significantly improved.

However, older pupils are suffering from a “legacy of underachievement” due to “previous weak teaching”.

The overall judgement of ‘good’ means the school has jumped two ratings: from ‘inadequate’, the worst out of four ratings, to ‘good’, which is the second best rating, just under ‘outstanding’.

A ‘vast’ difference in leadership in two years

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Paul Brooker, lead inspector, said the school is “vastly different” to when it was last inspected two years ago.

He wrote: “Since the previous inspection, and particularly in the last 12 months, leadership and management at all levels have been transformed. The clear lines of accountability start with the academy trust and filter into each classroom through effective senior and middle leaders.

“The principal has worked with remarkable energy and resilience to implement the necessary changes to staffing, including an overhaul of key leadership responsibilities.

“These have driven improvements in the quality of teaching and in the day-to-day life of pupils by establishing a calm, purposeful and orderly environment for learning.

“Leaders’ work to improve the quality of teaching has been highly effective. Senior leaders model their expectations, not only in the way that they interact with pupils and engage parents, but in defining excellence for all to achieve. ‘Excellence as standard’ is a suitable aspiration for all.

“Leaders’ new confidence encourages a ‘can do’ attitude to solving problems, where new ideas are readily shared and trialled. This is illustrated by the introduction of the daily reading time for pupils in Years 7 and 8, and the compulsory ‘period 6’ for Year 11 pupils three days a week. Each has been successful because staff have been determined to make a success of the proposals.”

Mr Brooker said changes to the school’s curriculum has provided “suitable breadth and balance to the diet of subjects”.

He wrote: “Previously, the structure of the curriculum and weaknesses in certain subjects limited pupils’ GCSE choices and capped the school’s published results.

“All pupils in Year 9 can now follow the full range of EBacc subjects (the English Baccalaureate is a government performance measure covering five core GCSE subjects) and can opt for two modern foreign languages at GCSE, should they choose to do so.”

Quality of teaching praised

Eleven new teachers joined the school in September 2016, several as newly qualified teachers.

The Ofsted report said: “Careful consideration is given to how the most able pupils can be stretched and how barriers to learning can be tackled. Pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities benefit from teachers’ detailed planning and the targeted support from additional adults.

“Good planning gives teachers confidence to manage pupils purposefully, so that lessons can proceed apace. They use their good subject knowledge to pose questions to check pupils’ understanding and extend their learning.”

“Leaders have successfully established the right conditions for learning in classrooms.

“Pupils are clear about what is expected of them, whether they are working independently, in pairs, in groups or as a class. Behaviour management, which was previously too variable in quality, is good.

“Teachers have high expectations of the quality and quantity of work that pupils will complete. Underpinning these high expectations is a more rigorous approach to setting targets and monitoring pupils’ progress: any pupils who fall behind, have a lapse in attendance or misbehave are quickly identified and given suitable support.

“Work in pupils’ books shows that teachers expect much of the most able pupils. However, some schemes of work, such as topics in design technology and religious education, lack suitable ambition.

“This means that, even if teaching is effective, there are times when pupils are not stretched to develop higher order skills or to think more deeply about what they are learning.”

Behaviour has ‘significantly improved’

“Inspectors have seen significant improvements in pupils’ attitudes and behaviour over the last 18 months. Pupils are motivated to do well, show pride in their work and are more determined to succeed.

“In class, although some still lack confidence, pupils more readily express their views and seek help when they do not understand. The climate for learning is positive across the school.

“Pupils’ attitudes to learning have improved significantly since the last inspection because staff are consistent in their application of sanctions and rewards. Engaging parents, for example with phone calls home, has been helpful in this regard. “Being removed from lessons is no longer a ‘badge of honour’, as it was 18 months ago, and pupils know that there will be consequences for their misdemeanours.

“The dramatic reduction in lesson disruption and repeat offences is evidence of the effective supervision and management of this system.

“In lessons, pupils follow instructions and settle quickly to their learning. Occasional distracted behaviour and off-task chatter are more a consequence of slow-paced teaching rather than a cause of it. If individual pupils do misbehave, they rarely attract the attention or approval of others, who get on with their own work.”

Outcomes for pupils

“Results in the most recent GSCE examinations in 2016 showed a significant improvement on the poor outcomes in 2014 and 2015. Better teaching and systematic revision helped to salvage the results in 2016, but outcomes were disappointing in several subjects, including physical education, music and humanities.

“Evidence from this inspection and previous monitoring visits confirms that pupils are making accelerated progress across all year groups, as a result of better teaching and sharper assessment. However, good achievement is not evident across the curriculum, and leaders acknowledge that previous weak teaching has left a legacy of underachievement in key subjects, particularly for older pupils.

“The most able pupils are making good progress because the school has successfully raised the expectations of this group, and they are well placed to benefit from better teaching and the school’s emphasis on celebrating excellence. In Year 11, for example, the most able pupils take full advantage of the additional teaching time in ‘period 6’, when they can consolidate and extend their learning.

“Standards in reading are low when pupils start school in Year 7. The daily reading initiative, started in February, has made a marked impact on reading standards of pupils in Years 7 and 8. The school’s analysis indicates that the initiative has boosted pupils’ reading standards, and that the progress made by disadvantaged pupils is particularly impressive.”

Principal at Ormiston Endeavour Academy, Christine Woods:

“We are thrilled to have achieved a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted. The achievement reflects the hard work, energy and determination that the staff and students at Ormiston Endeavour have shown, to drive improvement at the academy. It is a real team effort.

“It is brilliant to see our students’ huge potential being realised and we look forward to continuing to drive up educational standards and ensuring all our students have the best possible opportunities to succeed in life.”

Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich:

“I am delighted to hear that Ormiston Endeavour Academy has been awarded ‘good’ in their latest Ofsted rating and this is testament to the hard work and dedication of staff and students across the school.

“This latest result will surely serve to further motivate staff and pupils alike and I look forward to visiting the school very soon to see first-hand the improvements and to congratulate the team on their achievements.”

Toby Salt, chief executive of Ormiston Academies Trust:

“Ormiston Endeavour Academy is a real success story, exemplifying strong and committed leadership at all levels of the Trust as well as the hard work of staff and students at the academy.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the school to ensure that the significant improvements that have been already been achieved are sustained and furthered.”

Timeline: Ofsted ratings for Thurleston High School / Ormiston Endeavour Academy

January 2001 – Full inspection: No overall rating but “effective” with “very good features”

March 2006 – Full inspection: Inadequate

April 2010 – Full inspection: Satisfactory (‘Requires Improvement’ under current system)

July 2011 – Full inspection: Satisfactory (‘Requires Improvement’ under new system)

January 2012 – Reopens as Ormiston Endeavour Academy

April 2013 – Full inspection: Requires Improvement

July 2014 – Monitoring inspection: Behaviour and safety requires improvement

April 2015 – Full inspection: Inadequate and placed in special measures

June 2015 – Monitoring inspection: Improvement plan is fit for purpose

January 2016 – Monitoring inspection: Leaders are not taking effective action towards the removal of special measures

March 2016 – Monitoring inspection: Leaders are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures

July 2016 – Monitoring inspection: Leaders are taking effective action towards the removal of special measures

January 2017 – Full inspection: Good