Ernulf Academy in St Neots has ‘inadequate’ status removed by Ofsted inspectors

Scott Preston.

Scott Preston. - Credit: Archant

Ernulf Academy headteacher Scott Preston has praised the hard work of students and staff after Ofsted inspectors removed the school’s ‘inadequate’ status.

The inspectors judged its overall effectiveness to ‘require improvement’, giving the same rating for each of the five categories – leadership and management, behaviour and safety of pupils, quality of teaching, achievement of pupils, and sixth form provision.

Examined during Ofsted’s visit in December, it was part of three monitoring sessions that took place after the Barford Road school was put in the ‘serious weaknesses’ category in June 2013.

Lead inspector Glynis Bradley-Peat, and inspectors Vondra Mays, John Mason, and Chris Ockenden found that the school’s strengths included the work of leaders to successfully improve the quality of the curriculum, the achievement of pupils in English, and the works of the “knowledgeable” governing body to challenge leaders.

However, they said it ‘requires improvement’ in areas such as the progress of students in mathematics, science, and modern foreign languages, that there were too many ‘U’ grades at AS level and too few A*-C passes in GCSE mathematics re-sit exams.

The report states: “The most able do not consistently achieve the grades of which they are capable. Disadvantaged students are not catching up with other students quickly enough.

“Teaching is not yet consistently good across all subjects and year groups. Students are not challenged to build upon their initial responses to questioning to promote deeper thinking. Work set by some teachers fails to motivate or interest students.

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“Teachers do not apply the behaviour policy consistently resulting in some instances of low-level disruption and off-task behaviour.

“Students’ basic numeracy skills are not always secure, resulting in a lack of confidence and resilience.”

It also highlighted that relationships with parents are not strong enough, and therefore too many parents fail to “engage successfully” with the school’s work.

Mr Preston said: “I am delighted that the serious weaknesses designation has been removed from Ernulf. This is down to very hard work from staff and students, and the support of parents and carers.

“I am particularly pleased that the report identifies a number of key strengths. One in particular, hidden in the body of the report, is that they feel our “work to keep pupils safe and secure is good”. We know that this is an important factor for all parents and carers to know, and provides great reassurance.

“We knew before the inspection that this would be the outcome, as our GCSE results are still not at the national averages. This will always be a challenge for us, as the students who come to Ernulf have, on average, lower Key Stage 2 scores than those nationally. Sadly, the current inspection framework links all four key judgements to the GCSE performance, and as such we expected all of these to be limited to ‘3’.

“The areas identified for further improvement were all part of our Improvement Plan, and as such it is reassuring that there is ‘nothing new’ for us to be working on.

“We are very confident that the results will continue to rise. Our English department, in particular, has demonstrated that it is possible to achieve excellent results, and we are sure that the other subjects will rise to the challenge of securing equally good results.”