The latest Ofsted report for Ernulf Academy in St Neots has rated the school as still requiring improvement in all areas but says “inadequate teaching has been eradicated”.
The report, carried out at the end of November last year identified a “legacy of poor teaching and staffing difficulties” as the root cause of underachievement in recent years and although there are still areas of weakness, it also recognises the ability of the leadership team to turn things around.
The report stated: “Since the previous inspection, a legacy of weak teaching and recruitment difficulties has prevented some pupils from achieving well enough. In addition, leaders’ actions to hold staff to account for pupils’ outcomes have not been robust enough.”
Some areas of quality of teaching, pupil progress and leadership and management all need to improve before the school, which caters for 550 pupils, can be upgraded and rated as good. Inspectors also felt absence rates were still too high, but this was improving and approaching national expectations.
Inspectors did, however, recognise significant improvements and the positive influence of the new headteacher, Tracy Brogan, who took up post last September.
“New lines of accountability, improved assessment systems and new ways of recording and tracking progress are now starting to make a difference to the quality of teaching and pupils’ outcomes,” they said.
“The new headteacher, leadership team and the trust, [St Neots Learning Partnership Trust] demonstrate the capacity to bring about improvements. Senior leaders and governors now have a far clearer understanding of what they have to do to improve the school. Senior leaders’ monitoring and support is improving teaching consistently. New staff add momentum to leaders’ drive to make teaching consistently good. Proven leaders from the trust’s partner school are working alongside subject leaders in a range of subjects to share good practice and promote improvement. This is adding momentum to the school’s drive for improvement. The headteacher and the trust have prioritised improving pupils’ behaviour. This has worked well. Pupils are polite, welcoming and friendly. They readily engage in conversation while queueing quietly and patiently at lunchtime. Most pupils, staff and parents acknowledge the positive changes in behaviour that have taken place over the last 18 months. Pupils move around the site in a calm and orderly way. They open doors for visitors and most move swiftly between lessons and are punctual. The strong relationships between staff and pupils help pupils to learn about, and model, mutual respect.”
The report highlighted other areas which included “consistently high expectations of pupils” from teachers and the relationships between teachers and pupils was said to be “productive, without being oppressive”
New lines of accountability, improved assessment systems and new ways of recording and tracking progress were also said to be making a difference to the quality of teaching and pupils’ outcomes.
Headteacher, Tracy Brogan, said she was “very pleased that the Ofsted report recognised the many improvements put in place over the last 18 months”.
Adding: “This is testament to the hard work, commitment and enthusiasm of students, staff, governors and our partners within the trust and the continued support of parents and carers and the wider community.
“We continue to be committed to building on the strengths of the school, while ensuring we address anything that might stand in the way of ensuring our students achieve at the highest level. I am delighted that pupils are ‘proud to be part of the school’ and know that we will continue on our journey towards excellence.”