A FULL complement of hand-picked teachers, who have transformed the fortunes of a North-East academy, have been recognised for their efforts by inspectors.
St Aidan’s Academy, Darlington, has been graded good with outstanding features by experts from SIAMS, the Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools.
The report follows an Ofsted inspection which also recognised progress at the 440-student academy paying particular attention to the views of students who described behaviour as ‘amazing’.
For the first time, St Aidan’s Academy has a complete staff of 30 teachers, hand-picked for their skills and qualifications, rather than using supply staff.
The new regime of senior teachers has been working tirelessly for the past three years raising standards, aspirations and achievements.
This year’s exam results saw a 100 per cent improvement in outcomes and the most recent intake is the biggest ever, with a full quota going into Year 7, and 40 more pupils joining the school than last year.
SIAMS inspectors highlighted:
- The dedicated, determined and inspirational leadership of the principal and her team that has brought a purposeful calm to the community
- High aspirations for students
- A newly forged staff team, that was confident and energetic, which shared the principal’s determination and vision for the success of the academy
- Students’ caring, honest and ambitious nature
- That students recognised and respected the investment and confidence that the academy staff had in them
- A governing body that was passionate about the academy.
The report stated: “The academy is on a trajectory of improvement. It has accomplished a great deal in a short period of time and is determined to complete its journey. Students are proud of the changes they see in themselves and their academy.”
Inspectors singled out the “outstandingly successful” school within a school, an in-house alternative to exclusions that supports vulnerable students and integrates them back into the main academy community.
Ofsted inspectors highlighted the principal’s clear sense of moral purpose and commitment to improving outcomes, high expectations and strong routines, the improvements to the quality of teaching and strong leadership leading to better outcomes, particularly in maths and science.
They also noted that standards of behaviour had improved considerably and were orderly and respectful.
Students felt safe, showed a clear pride in their appearance and in the quality of their assessment books and took pride in their learning environment. Special educational needs teachers were improving the rates of student progress.
Inspectors noted that staff and students attributed the improvements to the firm but fair approach of the principal Nicole Gibbon and that the school motto, ‘We are destined for greatness’ was an emerging reality.
Ms Gibbon said: “Despite a national shortage of teachers, we have filled our staff taking great care to find professionals who see teaching as a vocation not merely a job. They wanted to come here, they chose to come here, because they believe they can make a difference to the lives of our young people.
“It is already having an impact. We have changed the culture of the school and our results this year were double last and the best for three years.
“We are on a journey where there is no room for complacency. Every child is precious and their learning is critical to fulfilling their potential. We now have a full and expert staff that is committed to the task ahead.”