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Special measures for the worst secondary
OXFORD Academy has gone into special measures as new results confirm it is the worst performing secondary in Oxfordshire.
Figures from the Department for Education show only 26 per cent of pupils at the Sandy Lane West school achieved five A* to Cs at GCSE including English and maths, well below the Government benchmark of 40 per cent.
The school was 25th worst in the country.
The figures were released on the same day as the results of an Ofsted inspection that took place in November and rated the school inadequate in all areas apart from behaviour, which received a ‘requires improvement’ rating.
Executive headteacher David Brown, who was appointed in January, pledged to improve results – but warned the school would still fall short of the benchmark this summer.
He said: “The changes the governors have made are indicative of the fact they realise it’s not good enough for the students here.
“They have brought in somebody – myself – who had been in teaching for 28 years and has a lot of experience.
“We are not transferring good efforts into exam results. We need a renewed focus on raising standards.”
He said he hoped his track record in transforming under-achieving schools – North Birmingham Academy was second worst in the country when he was brought in and is now judged good by Ofsted – would reassure parents that standards would improve.
Changes already made include simplifying the management structure, teaching classes himself to get a better feeling of the situation in the classroom, additional after-school revision classes and more mock exams.
Governors have given Mr Brown the go-ahead to ‘overstaff’ in the core subjects of English, maths and science, and he has already recruited two extra maths teachers, due to take up posts in June.
An academic coaching programme, with volunteers from organisations such as both Oxford’s universities and the Diocese of Oxford working one-to-one and one-to-two with pupils who need extra help, has been introduced, and 100 volunteers have already signed up.
He said staff morale had been low but he believed it was improving.
The school was placed in special measures due to low attainment and progress, variable teaching quality, and failures in leadership and management.
Oxfordshire County Council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley said: “We have been worried about it for quite a while. Because it is an academy we have to talk to the sponsors as well as everybody else.”
The academy is sponsored by the Diocese of Oxford, the Beecroft Trust and Oxford Brookes University.
Anne Davey, vice-chairman of governors and education director for the diocese, said: “We were disappointed by the GCSE examination results. Since those examinations were taken the school has come under new leadership.
“The changes that the new leadership team are embedding are on track to significantly raise attainment this summer.”
Former principal Mike Reading went on extended leave from the academy for personal reasons in October and stepped down at the end of the school term.
OXFORD ACADEMY FACTFILE
Oxford Academy was Oxford’s first and Oxfordshire’s second sponsored academy.
It opened in September 2008 after a fight by anti-academy campaigners and some parents and teachers who opposed the plans.
It replaced Peers School, which in its last year only saw 18 per cent of pupils achieving five A* to Cs including English and maths. Peers went into special measures in October 2005 but came out under the leadership of headteacher Lorna Caldicott in January 2007.
Oxford Academy is sponsored by the Diocese of Oxford, the Beecroft Trust and Oxford Brookes University.
At its first full Ofsted inspection in 2010, it was rated satisfactory.
Results have been dropping by two percentage points each year since then. There are 956 pupils on the school roll.