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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Carlisle academy school doing well but could do better - Ofsted

Carlisle's Richard Rose Morton Academy is making progress but still “requires improvement”, Ofsted inspectors say.

Morton academy school photo
Morton academy

The school came out of special measures for the second time in 2008 and was graded ‘satisfactory’ when it was last inspected by Ofsted in 2010.

Since then a new grading system has come in and the ‘satisfactory’ rating no longer exists. ‘Requires improvement’ is the equivalent.

On the downside, the inspectors say, GCSE results in maths and English are below par.

The quality of teaching varies although none of the lessons observed was “inadequate”.

Pupil attendance is improving but needs to improve “further and faster”.

High staff turnover has resulted in a “lack of continuity” while the sixth form “requires improvement”.

The inspectors also found plenty to praise.

The proportion of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at grades C or higher is above average.

The quality of teaching is improving. Design and technology, PE, and art especially are strengths.

Pupil behaviour, a weakness in the past, is “generally good”.

Provision for disabled students and those with special needs is “methodical and diligent”.

The academy deals effectively with bullying, which means pupils feel safe.

And more parents are sending their children there.

The school has 735 pupils, including 103 sixth formers, boosted by a bumper year-seven intake of 170 this autumn.

Headteacher Katie Robinson said: “The community has bought back into the school.

“The word on the street is that students get a good deal.

“They get a good academic education – we know we have some way to go in maths and English but we’re confident we’ll do it – and we offer 45 after-school activities.

“That’s tremendous for the number of pupils we have.”

She is particularly proud of the ‘ambassadorial programme’ where students run activities for younger pupils at the academy and in feeder primary schools.

She predicts that the next GCSE results for maths and English will be in line with the national average.

And she said the academy was striving to improve teaching through links with the Bishop Rawsthorne CofE Academy, an outstanding school in Chorley, Lancashire.

Morton Academy is due for another Ofsted inspection in 2014.

Mrs Robinson said: “We have high aspirations. The inspectors want us to be ‘good’ [one grade higher than ‘requires improvement’] but we want to be ‘outstanding’ [the highest grade]. In two years I would expect us to be at least ‘good’ and I’d like to think ‘good with outstanding features’.”

The academy occupies purpose-built buildings that opened in 2011.

Four inspectors visited on September 18 and 19. They saw 34 lessons, met pupils, governors and staff and sent questionnaires to staff and parents.

All staff agreed with the statement: “I am proud to be a member of staff at this school.”

The inspectors’ report says: “Students are making better progress in most subjects although it is not yet universally good progress.

“The leadership and management have demonstrated the capacity to secure improvements in all areas during a period of considerable change in staffing and associated disruption.

“The determination and commitment of the headteacher and governing body are driving developments with altruistic intent for wider community benefit within Carlisle.”

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