Ipswich primary school 'turns a corner' following termination warning
PUBLISHED: 05:30 20 February 2019 | UPDATED: 06:59 20 February 2019
An Ipswich primary school which faced losing its sponsor following a torrent of criticism from Ofsted has taken "effective action" to improve, according to inspectors.
REAch2 Academy Trust, which runs Sprites Primary Academy in Ipswich, was handed a Minded to Terminate letter by the Department for Education (DfE) in December last year – meaning it could be forced to cut ties with the school unless improvements were made in a number of key areas.
While the trust insisted the Sprites Academy would not be closing, the DfE warned it would be taking action if pupil outcomes did not improve significantly over the next school year.
Now, in a crucial turn of events, Ofsted has praised Sprites Academy for taking “effective action” to improve – setting it in good stead for future inspections.
However REAch2 has also acknowledged “further improvements are needed” – meaning the hard work on behalf of staff, parents and pupils alike is not over yet.
The comments follow Sprites’ first monitoring inspection since it was judged to have “serious weaknesses” – a key indicator of progress at the school.
Among the specific areas of improvement highlighted by Ofsted was a more positive culture and ethos, culminating in a “calm, purposeful place to be”.
Inspectors also praised pupils’ raised expectations, a reduction in the number of children being excluded, improved teaching and assessment procedures and better teamwork – all contributing to a more positive learning environment.
However neither Sprites Academy nor REAch2 are out of the woods yet, as the trust said further improvements were required – with a particular focus on children’s reading and times tables.
Ofsted advised staff that “teaching remains too variable and, at times, is not good enough”, and “the presentation of work continues to be an area for significant improvement”.
Inspectors added that pupils in Year 6 were making better progress, however attainment in reading, writing and mathematics of pupils in other classes, including those with SEND and disadvantaged pupils, remains well below the expected standards”.
Tania Devereux, was who appointed headteacher of Sprites Academy in January last year, said she “couldn’t be more proud” of her team.
“The team here at Sprites is working so hard - that includes our wonderful children and the supportive parents who are on this journey with us,” she said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of everyone.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Colin Kreidewolf, chairman of the governing body, who added: “The local governing body is supportive of the senior leadership team and very pleased to see the progress the school is making.”
Cathie Paine, deputy chief executive of REAch2, said the report made for “encouraging reading” and represented an “important milestone” on Sprites’ path to improvement.
“This latest report from Ofsted makes for encouraging reading and it is evident that Sprites has turned a corner,” she said.
“Tania and her team are to be congratulated for their hard work and tireless commitment to the school.
“We are pleased with the progress that is being made, but also clear that further improvements are needed.
“Everyone at REAch2 is committed to turning Sprites around so that the academy provides exceptional opportunities for learning to every pupil. Today’s report marks an important milestone in turning that vision into a reality.”
Should the trust ultimately fail to make the required changes set out by the government, the DfE has the power to terminate its funding agreement with the school – leaving Sprites Academy without a sponsor.
However this does necessarily mean the school would face closure, as it may be taken in by an alternative trust.