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Impressive Ofsted report a ‘credit’ to Spires Academy
PARENTS are pleased by a glowing report into a school in one of the most deprived communities in Oxford.
Oxford Spires Academy opened in 2011 to replace struggling Oxford School.
It was rated good in all areas in its first full inspection in July.
Oxfam worker Kate Wareing, 40, of Littlemore, has an 11-year-old, Ilona, at the school.
She said she met staff when she was looking for a school and was impressed.
She said: “They made a huge effort to show why it would be a good school for our daughter.
“We are delighted with everything they have done to make the transition easy and the Ofsted report gives us confidence we have made the right decision.”
Church pastor Matt Partridge, 44, of Cowley, has 16-year-old Esme, who joined from Oxford School, at the academy.
He said: “Sue and the team do a fantastic job.
“The school is improving week on week and the big turnaround was when Sue and the team took it on and it became an academy.”
Esme achieved five A*s, four As and two Bs in the summer’s GCSEs.
The Ofsted report follows disappointing GCSE results which saw the headline figures of children achieving five A*s to Cs, including English and Maths, drop by eight per cent compared with the previous year.
But headteacher Sue Croft said the children had made impressive progress and the report reflected the success.
Inspector Janet Pearce also said students made impressive progress, and said the academy was “ambitious and rapidly improving”.
She described Mrs Croft as “dedicated and energetic”.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “It’s a great credit to the school that it is making such good progress, especially as half the students have English as an additional language and a quarter have disabilities or special needs.”
A key issue facing Oxford School, which the academy replaced, was a falling pupil roll.
Since it opened, the number of families putting the academy as their first choice grew from 55 for 2011 to 91 this month, a 65 per cent rise.
Che Harry, 18, from Greater Leys, said: “The report was good but I thought we could have got outstanding.”
Zainab Azam, 15, from Cowley, said: “Behaviour has improved. When it was Oxford School, rules used to be broken and nothing would be done.
“Now teachers let us know if we get out of line.”
Areas for improvement highlighted included stretching more able students, in history and geography, while progress in English and Maths were strengths.
Headteacher Sue Croft said: “Our most able students make better progress than any other group but, having said that, of course we can stretch at the top end.”
She said progress in this summer’s results was way above the national average, with 83 per cent of children making the expected three levels of progress between Key Stage 2 and GCSE, compared to a national average of 64 per cent, while 46 per cent made four levels of progress and two children made six levels of progress.
The school had hoped 60 per cent of pupils would achieve the benchmark five A* to Cs including English and Maths this summer, but on the day only 49 per cent made the grade.
Mrs Croft said: “One of our lessons is to be aspirational and have massively high expectations, but to make sure we are realistic.
“We have some absolutely outstanding practice, but we need greater consistency.”