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A Cambridgeshire academy school’s pupils and parents have told an education watchdog “they wouldn’t recommend it to others” as inspectors mark it as ‘requires improvement’.

Ofsted inspectors gave Neale-Wade Academy, in March, a rating of ‘requires improvement’ after they found standards had declined since the previous inspection in 2016 which had rated it as ‘good’.

The inspector’s report recognised that there were mixed views about life at the school adding that while many were happy and enjoyed the school, a “significant” number of parents had lost faith in the school.

Read more: Latest education news

Graham Horn, the school’s principal, said all leaders and teachers at the school are “working hard” to regain the trust of parents and the wider community.

The report continued that parent’s concerns about behaviour and the quality of education are justified.

It stated that pupils do not always achieve “as well as they could”, because while some curriculum plans are clearer than others, the report said that not all leaders at the school have planned their subjects logically to build student’s knowledge.

It added that some pupils find what they are being taught confusing because the knowledge has not been arranged and taught in an order that helps with their learning.

In the report it also said that some teachers do not have high enough expectations of what pupils can do and choose activities which do not help pupils learn as much as they could.

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What did the report say?

Neale-Wade Academy has more than 1,400 students enrolled at the school, according to Ofsted’s website, and teaches pupils between 11 to 18-year-old.

The report said: “Pupils have mixed views about life at the Neale-Wade Academy.

“While many are happy and enjoy school, a number of pupils and their parents say that they would not recommend the school to others.

“Pupils feel they have not always been well looked after. They say this is now changing. The new principal and his team have quickly addressed how the school deals with bullying and behaviour. Unkind behaviour is not tolerated.

“Bullying is now dealt with much more robustly and effectively. While some bullying still remains, many pupils told inspectors that they now trust leaders and staff to deal with it and make it stop.

“Pupils are well supported by the pastoral team. Pupils do not always achieve as well they could. This is because, while some curriculum plans are clearer than others, not all leaders have planned their subjects logically to help pupils build their knowledge.

“Pupils access a well-planned life skills programme. They learn about a range of topics including democracy, healthy relationships and careers. Pupils value this programme as well as the wide range of after-school enrichment clubs available to them.”

See the issues being reported in your area:

‘Swift changes’ have been made

The report recognised that “swift changes” have been made since the new principal Graham Horn was appointed in September 2020, which the inspectors said has begun to make the school better for the whole community.

Inspectors highlighted that support for the weakest readers was a strength for the school and that staff quickly identify and support pupils who have fallen behind.

The report continued that pupils shared that they felt they had not always been well looked after, but that this was now changing since the new principal took over.

The report said: “The new principal and his team have quickly addressed how the school deals with bullying and behaviour. Unkind behaviour is not tolerated.

“Bullying is now dealt with much more robustly and effectively.

“While some bullying still remains, many pupils told inspectors that they now trust leaders and staff to deal with it and make it stop.”

The report also highlighted the school’s “well planned life skills programme”, where pupils learn about a range of topics including democracy, healthy relationships and careers. Inspectors said this programme is valued by students.

What did the school say?

Mr Horn said: “Each day we are taking steps forward to ensure positive progress is made at Neale-Wade Academy and our students’ abilities and aspirations are fully supported.

“This term has seen the reintroduction of lots more extra-curricular activities and visits which will lead to an enriching, broad educational experience for our students.

“I’m proud to be principal of this school and equally proud of the resilience shown by the school community over the last year and a half.

“We now hope for more settled times in education nationally for us to fully focus on our future.”

The academy is part of The Active Learning Trust. The CEO of the Trust, Stephen Chamberlain, said: “The previous Ofsted inspection was in 2016 and over the last five years there have been changes to leadership at Neale-Wade Academy including the appointment of principal Graham Horn in September 2020.

“The Trust is working closely with Mr Horn and the school’s governing body to improve the direction of the school.

“Positive progress has been made, as highlighted in the report, but we acknowledge there is more to be done.

“We have to raise that progress we have been able to make over the last 18 month has been impacted by the competing demands of the pandemic.

“The school had to predominantly focus on the health and well-being of students and staff and switching to a programme of remote learning over this time.”



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