The Vale Academy Ofsted Inspection, November 2017
Improved student outcomes and effective leadership were praised by Ofsted inspectors following a visit to The Vale Academy.
The academy retains its “good” status awarded in March, 2013, after a short inspection earlier this month (November).
Principal Nicola Williams was “really pleased” with the findings.
She said: “Staff, students, governors and parents should be proud of this report. The Vale Way has come up trumps again.
“We have not been distracted by the move to a new building, evidenced by results across the academy.
“The findings reflect the positive environment that we encourage every day. It really is a team effort and I’d like to thank everyone involved especially the teaching and support staff for all their hard work and dedication.
“It confirms my belief we are going from strength to strength. But we are not complacent and I lead a team determined to continue our improvement journey.”
In a letter to Mrs Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector Dimitris Spiliotis praised her leadership since being appointed nine months after Ofsted’s last visit.
“You have developed an effective leadership structure which allows you to make accurate evaluations of the strengths of the school and areas that you need to develop further,” the letter says.
“You have ensured that leadership across the school has maintained a strong focus on the progress of pupils and, as a result, outcomes for pupils have improved since the last inspection.”
The report follows another set of impressive GCSE results in August when 67% of students achieved a ‘standard’ 4+ pass - the equivalent of the old grade C - in English and Maths.
The inspector said: “Staff have confidence in your ability to lead the school.
“You identify correctly areas of the school that need improvement and you utilise the support available from (sponsor) the Delta Academies Trust swiftly to support and improve performance on those areas.”
Sixth form provision had been one such area that had shown improvement, with students in Year 12 making better progress and retention rates rising.
The letter says: “Through your passion for literacy you have ensured that the development of extended writing skills remains a key priority across the school and that it forms part of planning for learning.
“This is evident in the delivery of lessons and in the improved outcomes for example in English, physical education and science.”
Safeguarding was also praised, with detailed, high quality reports.
“Pupils say that they feel safe, know whom to go to if they have any concerns and are confident that staff will deal effectively with any problems.”
The curriculum was broad and balanced and met the needs of all learners, including disadvantaged students and those who have special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities.
“You and your leadership team ensure that teachers have relevant information about pupils’ starting points and progress so that they can plan learning to meet all pupils’ needs.
“Teachers use questioning effectively and skilfully probe pupils’ understanding.
“Your thorough monitoring systems show that the quality of teaching is good and improving.
“The recent improvement of outcomes in modern foreign languages is evidence of the effectiveness of your interventions to improve the quality of teaching.”
Students took pride in their work.
“Their relationships with teachers are strong and encourage a positive learning environment in the lessons.”
Staff value the support they receive, along with the opportunities for sharing good practice, and support the Principal’s “relentless drive for continuous improvement.”
Attendance was consistently above the national average because of effective tracking systems.
The Chief Executive Officer at sport Delta Academies Trust Paul Tarn paid tribute to Mrs Williams and her team.
“This is an excellent report and I’d like to thank everybody involved for their contributions at The Vale Academy,” he said.
“Strong leadership and a focus on the curriculum are paying dividends and the winners are those who attend The Vale Academy.”
You can read the full Ofsted Inspection report on our Statutory Information page here.