More than 1,300 students aged from 11 to 18 at a Cambridgeshire school have been told they are partly to blame for a highly critical assessment by Ofsted. The schools’ inspectorate rated Neale-Wade academy in March as “requires improvement” in all five key areas – the same rating as in 2021.
It was last ‘good’ in 2016.
One of the failures, says Ofsted, is for ‘behaviour and attitudes” which inspectors observed during their two-day inspection on October 31 and November 1, 2023.
“At times, pupils’ behaviour falls below what is expected,” says the report.
“For example, they display boisterous behaviour in social spaces and use inappropriate language. Some adults do not apply the policies consistently.
“As a result, when some pupils misbehave, this is not dealt with quickly. This causes learning to be disrupted in some lessons.”
Paul Farr, executive principal who joins Principal Graham Horn in leading the improvement plans at the school said: “Following our recent Ofsted inspection, our commitment to ongoing improvement plans at Neale Wade Academy has only strengthened.
“Although the overall grade was marked as ‘Requires Improvement,’ the report acknowledges the positive impact of recent changes implemented at Neale Wade Academy.
“This recognition is encouraging.
“Inspectors noted that ‘pupils at Neale Wade Academy are beginning to benefit from recent improvements’, that ‘the school has raised the level of ambition for all pupils’ and ‘pupils feel safe’.
“Graham and I would like to thank everyone at The Active Learning Trust for their support and involvement in our improvement plans.”
“Our priority is, as always, to offer the best educational experience for our students – a passion shared by the entire Neale Wade community. We remain dedicated to building on these improvements and striving for an overall ‘Good’ judgment in the future.”
For now, however, Ofsted’s conclusion is that the quality of education, personal development, sixth form provision and leadership/management all require improvement.
There are some glimmers of hope.
“Pupils at Neale-Wade Academy are beginning to benefit from recent improvements,” says Ofsted.
“For example, older pupils say that behaviour is better than before. However, too many of lessons are still disrupted.”
Raised level of ambition
And the school “has raised the level of ambition for all pupils”.
It says younger pupils in particular benefit from an aspirational new curriculum “however there is significant variability in how the curriculum is delivered.
School is buzzing tonight for our Year 9 Parent and Options evening. Once again our students have impressed us with their commitment and passion for their favourite subjects by volunteering to speak to students and parents about the options! pic.twitter.com/ayzoONw98Q
— Neale-Wade Academy (@NealeWade) November 30, 2023
“Consequently, not all pupils learn well and make the progress they should. Pupils have experienced significant levels of turbulence in recent months.
“They have seen a high number of changes to staff, including the use of temporary teachers. This has made it difficult to foster and maintain positive relationships”.
Ofsted says the majority of pupils feel confident that staff are there and looking out for them.
“However, some struggle to have trust in staff to resolve their concerns and worries,” says Ofsted.
“Pupils feel safe. Bullying is rare. The school has well-established procedures to deal effectively with cases. The majority of pupils are polite and respectful.
‘Inappropriate language’ from a minority
“However, a minority use inappropriate language in social situations. While adults challenge this, pupils do not always realise how or why this may cause offence to others”.
Ofsted says recent changes within the Active Learning Trust – who run the school – have made a positive impact on the rate of the school’s improvement. Additional support and capacity have been provided. This is beginning to deliver rapid and sustainable improvement for all pupils.
And since the previous inspection, the school has redesigned its curriculum and subject specialists have developed programmes of study that are ambitious for all.
Our Year 7 students reenacted scenes from Homer's Greek Iliad today in their English lesson. Looks like fun was had by all! pic.twitter.com/LO2VYR2DIN
— Neale-Wade Academy (@NealeWade) November 22, 2023
But Ofsted says the delivery of the curriculum, including in the sixth form, and for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), is inconsistent.
Teaching can lack precision and teaching strategies do not always help pupils learn.
“Some teachers do not routinely check learning that pupils may have missed,” Ofsted says.
“This limits teachers’ ability to address significant gaps in pupils’ knowledge. As a result, some pupils struggle to learn new content. They cannot recall information over longer time periods. This makes it difficult for pupils to perform well in examinations and assessments.
Ofsted says pupils with SEND are well supported. Their needs are accurately identified. Teaching is adapted to support pupils with SEND to access the same curriculum as their peers.
Just one of our students who will be meeting with Mr Horn tomorrow to receive thanks for representing the school at our Remembrance Ceremony last Friday. We are very proud of them! pic.twitter.com/SCoqzW2oBv
— Neale-Wade Academy (@NealeWade) November 16, 2023
“However, as with the curriculum for others, there are inconsistencies in the delivery of the curriculum, which results in pupils not learning as well as they should,” says the inspection report.
Ofsted says pupils are taught about the importance of respect and tolerance
Teaching is ‘inconsistent’ says Ofsted
“However, teaching is inconsistent,” it says. “This means pupils do not fully understand these issues.”
The school’s careers programme is being developed.
Ofsted has given the school a list of suggested improvements.
These include ensuring that “teachers routinely check all pupils’ understanding of key knowledge and adapt their approaches to address gaps and misconceptions.
“Teachers do not always identify and focus clearly enough on the most significant gaps in pupils’ knowledge. Consequently, pupils who are behind in their learning are not able to catch up as quickly as they should.
“The school must ensure that curriculum planning and teaching swiftly identify and address pupils’ most significant gaps in knowledge”.
Our CREATE faculty hosted a festive crafternoon to promote staff well-being this week. Staff chose from cupcake decorating, lino print card making and pyrography decoration creation! pic.twitter.com/ByLkIcDrdr
— Neale-Wade Academy (@NealeWade) December 7, 2023
It adds: “The school has not ensured that its behaviour policy is consistently applied.
“The result of this is that the behaviour of some pupils interrupts the learning of others. Some pupils use language that is inappropriate in social spaces.
“The school should make sure that all staff implement the behaviour policy consistently and effectively.”