Ofsted's blog: Ofsted’s Annual Report highlights some secondary education case studies

2nd December 2016 at 10:02

Getting it right with people and projects

Schools, colleges and academies are all aiming for success for their students and they all employ different methods. The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2015/16 highlights some case studies of settings who have identified what works well for them.

On track and confident

When inspectors visited Aston University Technical College they watched a team of six Year 12 boys give a presentation to business executives from the UK’s largest provider of on-track warning systems. They’d developed, from scratch, a system that was very similar to one that the company uses to help improve the safety of workers on the railway.

At a sponsoring university, the boys demonstrated the schematic that they’d developed using a 3D printer. They presented without a script and inspectors were impressed by their confidence and at how professional the presentation was.

The feedback from the provider was that, yes, this idea could be developed into the next generation of safety equipment. And the team was offered the opportunity to test the product on the business’s own test track.

Driving up standards

A rigorous approach to driving rapid improvement at Oldham Academy North by the principal and senior leaders has paid dividends. They’ve been highly focused in their quest to provide good teaching and learning for all pupils in their care.

Recent appointments of senior and middle leaders have strengthened the school’s capacity for further sustained, embedded improvement. New leaders have become very effective in a short period of time. Middle leaders now take responsibility for the achievement and personal development of their pupils and hold other staff strongly to account for the quality of their work.

The academy shows a good understanding of the needs of pupils and there are clear plans in place to raise the quality of teaching and learning even further. These include dedicated weekly subject meetings to drive up standards in those departments.

Joined up approach

The curriculum at Oakfield Academy is one of the school’s strengths. The headteacher has realised a vision of an all-through curriculum from Year 5 to Year 8. As a consequence there are no artificial barriers between a ‘primary’ curriculum in years 5 and 6 and a ‘secondary’ one in years 7 and 8.

This approach means that pupils’ journeys through the school are seamless and the continuity helps them to make good progress. Leaders also keep the curriculum under constant review and, as a result, it’s well tuned to the needs of pupils.

Helping the most able

At Highcrest Academy the most able pupils are making good progress in most subjects. Teachers are aware of the need to ensure that these pupils are given appropriately demanding work in lessons and they’re identified as soon as they join the school. Following that their progress is tracked closely by academic mentors.

The pupils log the further challenges for themselves in all of their subjects. In 2015, over one third of GCSEs were graded A*, A or B, which reflected well on an intake of which only 17% were higher attainers at the end of Key Stage 2. The high proportion of A* and A grades in English literature last year also indicates good achievement by the most able pupils.

At Bedford free school, the most-able pupils are making good progress overall particularly in English, humanities and languages. The school has an enhanced curriculum that offers opportunities to develop important knowledge, skills and qualities in leadership, resilience and problem-solving. It also helps to raise their aspirations for higher education through a significant range of opportunities such as ‘operation Oxbridge’ and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programmes.