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Academy in special measures halves intake in bid to boost standards

One of the country’s flagship academies is to cut its intake of students by 45 per cent this September in a bid to improve "inadequate" standards.

The Djanogly City Academy in Nottingham announced yesterday that it would be reducing the number of Year 7 students from 270 to 150.

The school was one of the first academies in the country, introduced under the previous Labour administration, but it was placed into special measures toward the end of last year by Ofsted.

In a damning report from the watchdog, inspectors judged the academy to be “inadequate” in every category, leading to principal Andy Kilpatrick to quit his role the following day.

The news comes just days after the second largest academy sponsor in the country, E-Act, was forced to hand over control of 10 of its academies to the Department for Education due to concerns over standards.

According to the Djangoly’s sponsor, the Djanogly Learning Trust, the decision to limit its intake of students had been agreed with both Ofsted and the DfE in the hope of making “rapid and long-lasting improvements”.

Chair of the trust, Ron Kenyon, added that the sponsor had agreed with Ofsted to find another “successful local academy” with which to work alongside to help it raise standards.

The sponsor also stated its intention to downsize the scale of the academy by moving most of its teaching to just one of its two sites, which it said would “better concentrate the management of performance and behaviour”.

“The twin sites at Sherwood Rise and Gregory Boulevard were built to accommodate 1,600 students. We currently have around 1,200 and that number is set to drop over the next few years,” David Holdsworth, director of operations for the trust, said in a statement.

“As well as the challenges this poses to our teaching staff, it makes no economic sense to work across such a large campus.”

Several education-related options are being explored for the spare accommodation at Sherwood Rise, the sponsor added.

The school refused to add anything further to its statement, which also made clear that it was still looking for a new headteacher having failed to appoint someone during a round of interviews in January.

Jean Gemmell, Djanogly’s chair of governors, said: “Our students and the local community deserve a visionary headteacher who will build upon the improvements already achieved. We are continuing our nationwide search for the right individual.”

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said that Djanogly and the difficulties it was now facing was "yet another example of how changing the status of a school does not improve results".  

"Michael Gove’s consistent promotion of academies and free schools over local authority schools is decidedly misplaced," NUT general secretary Christine Blower said. "The evidence shows that the London Challenge and other City Challenges improved results through collaboration not academisation.

"Schools need the help and support of being part of their local authority family of schools, not to be isolated.”

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