Neale-Wade Academy in March is not just ‘good’ it is above national average in ‘many areas’ and is something the community should be proud to have in the town
- Credit: Archant
March and the local community should be “proud” of the town’s Neale-Wade Academy after government inspectors gave it a ‘good’ rating in the latest inspection.
Calls for the community to take pride in the school, which four years ago was put into special measures after Ofsted found it was “failing pupils”, came from Andrew Pugh and Nichola Jones, chairman and vice-chairman of the governors.
Speaking exclusively to the Cambs Times at a special briefing on Thursday, Mrs Jones said: “I don’t think people realise just how good the school now is. Our pupils’ achievements are often above the national average in many areas - and that’s not something you expect of a Fenland school, and I think there are many parents who just don’t know that.”
Her view os the school’s success was backed by the Ofsted inspectors led by John Daniell whose report said: “The school has improved significantly since the previous inspection because of the strong leadership at all levels.”
Mrs Jones was joined by Mr Pugh who said it is time people realised just what an asset the school is to the community.
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The report, published last week, also praised teachers for their “good subject knowledge as a major contributor to the improvements made in the quality of teaching.” And also for their “positive relationships with pupils”.
This is a big change from 2012 when Ofsted berated the standard of teaching at the school. The latest report said: “The quality of teaching in the school over time is good” and “teachers have a good understanding of the needs of different groups of pupils in the school and they use this effectively when planning for the content of their lessons.”
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Behaviour of pupils was also found to be ‘good’ by the inspectors with the report commenting: “Pupils move around the school sensibly and with purpose.” Attendance has improved and is now “broadly in line with the national average.”
Principal Jason Wing is absolutely delighted with the school’s latest report, which comes after an earlier than scheduled inspection by Ofsted.
“We were not due for an inspection until next spring but I persuaded them to come earlier, because I knew we were ready,” said Mr Wing, who pledged to turn the school from its ‘special measures’ status to outstanding after taking over its leadership in September 2011.
Ofsted’s damning report in May 2012 revealed nothing that Mr Wing was not already aware of when he took over and he had already started to put measures in place to turn the Neale-Wade around.
But as he says it is like “manoeuvring a large ship” and improvement takes time and hard work to achieve.
He praised the school’s staff and pupils for their commitment over the past four and a half years in bringing about the improvements needed to achieve the ‘good’ rating.
And he added: “In fact I know we are better than that, we narrowly missed out on being ‘outstanding’. We are outstanding in three out of the four measures, and that is an amazing achievement by anybody’s standards.
“The attitude and morale of staff and pupils is now very positive, there is a completely different feeling about the school than when I first took over. The students are proud of their school, and staff can now see their hard work is paying off. They are prepared to put in extra work, such as the Neale-Wade hour, which they don’t get anything extra for, because they can see it is working.
“Our breakfast clubs are well attended with over a 100 pupils turning up for maths and science.”
He also pointed out the school’s value added - the progress pupils make from starting at the school - is well above the national average.
The report said pupils enter the school with levels of prior attainment which are below the national average. But added: “Pupils make good progress in this school from their different starting points. Disadvantaged pupils make similar or sometimes better progress than their peers nationally.”
And it points out that in 2016, almost two thirds of pupils achieved at least a grade C in both English and mathematics. “This is due to the high-quality teaching in English and to improvements in teaching mathematics.”
The report adds: “Inspection evidence indicates that pupils across all year groups, including those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, make at least good progress in a wide range of subjects.”
The number of Year 10 pupils aiming for university has risen from 10 per cent when Mr Wing started to 75 per cent now.
Mr Wing said: “It is important to raise the aspirations of all our pupils. When I ask a pupil if they are thinking of university and they say ‘no’ I ask ‘why not’. We have a very strong careers set up here, and close relationships with businesses like Smurfitt Kappa that help with that.”
The report also praised the governing body for its “good understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses” and the governors manage teachers’ performance “well” and “ensure that performance targets relate directly to pupils’ outcomes.”
Mrs Jones added: “The school is a very important part of the community, and it would be fantastic if the community could get behind it and give it the recognition it deserves.”
Mr Wing concluded: “Knowing we are so close to outstanding is testament to how hard everyone has worked: the staff, the pupils, the governors and the parents. It is a real team effort and I’m really proud of how far we have come.”
For the latest ofsted report visit: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted