Banbury Academy ‘requires improvement’ and features in a TV documentary next week

Banbury Academy GV. NNL-161005-144913009
Banbury Academy GV. NNL-161005-144913009

Banbury Academy’s efforts to pull itself out of inadequate performance have failed again.

fsted returned a verdict of ‘requires improvement’ for a third year in succession.

Its report tells Aspirations Academy Trust - which took the school out of Oxfordshire County Council control in 2012 - that it requires improvement in every department.

The academy is featured in a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary on Monday at 8pm.

GCSE A*-C grades achieved by pupils have fallen to well below the 2015 national average.

“The high turnover of staff has disrupted the education of some pupils and sixth form students and slowed the rate of school improvement,” the report says.

“Significant numbers of staff and some parents have lost confidence in the leadership. Leaders’ efforts to improve teaching have 
not resulted in consistently good quality.

“Not all teachers manage pupils’ behaviour well enough in lessons. The gap between the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and others, although narrowing, is too wide. Provision in the sixth form requires improvement.”

The report is the result of an inspection in June. The outgoing principal, Emily Gent, was off sick and did not attend. Her successor, Sylvia Thomas arrived the day after the Ofsted team left.

Miss Thomas said: “Having done four weeks here there is clearly untapped potential in both staff and student body and a desire to achieve far more. I am confident by working more closely with our community we will see a positive future for the two schools (Banbury Academy and the Space Studio) and aspirations rising further.”

The outgoing and incoming chairs of governors, Tony Ingham and Rebecca Mileham, said: “The plans we have started to implement since Sylvia’s arrival will provide us with the framework for making the rapid improvements required.

“We have made some structural and systematic changes in consultation with staff and students ready for the new academic year.

“We predict a better set of results in 2016 across the whole campus and look 
forward to seeing that trend continuing into 2017 and beyond.”

A parent, who did not want to be named, said: “The latest report is worrying for parents but it only backs up concerns some have already raised.

“Many of us have been concerned about the high rate of staff turnover for some time and worry that this points to an organisation that hasn’t been working well.

“However, the incoming principal has already communicated she wants to properly involve teachers, parents and other local stakeholders in decisions about the future direction and to make this a truly shared endeavour to improve outcomes for our children.

“We hope her paymasters - the Aspirations Academies Trust, based in London and who control the school - are wise enough to let her do this.

Inspectors said school leaders did not act swiftly enough after the last inspection.

A significant number of staff and some parents expressed concern about the way the school is led and managed. Several staff told inspectors they did not feel trusted or supported by senior leaders, for example in dealing with pupils’ behaviour. Pupils’ learning is sometimes undermined by the poor behaviour of a few pupils, the report said, and pupils’ attendance is well below the national average.

The high turnover of staff and difficulty in recruiting teachers in some subjects have had a negative impact on improving teaching overall, the report said.

“It’s like three steps forward, two steps back,” one teacher told inspectors.

“The majority of teachers have secure subject knowledge. They are enthusiastic about their subjects and try to make learning fun,” the report said.

“The school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is good. Pupils feel staff have their best interests at heart and they know who to turn to if they have a concern.”