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Bradford school 'could be removed from special measures'

Holmewood's Ryecroft Primary Academy has been advised that, if its pace of progress continues, the measures could be lifted

Posted by Julian Owen | February 09, 2018 | Teaching

Following a second monitoring inspection visit since Ryecroft Primary Academy was placed in a category a year ago, Ofsted inspectors advised that its leaders and managers are now taking effective action. 

Northern Education Trust (NET), Ryecroft Academy’s sponsor, has made dramatic changes since the 2016 inspection.  

The appointment of new staff – a principal, Mrs Helen Pearson, an assistant principal, and a range of teachers and teaching assistants - has enabled the school to take a big step forward.   

NET has also welcomed a new chief executive officer, Mr Rob Tarn, who took up the role in September 2017 from Outwood Grange Academies Trust, where he earned a national reputation for his transformational approach to school improvement.  

Mr Tarn is making radical changes across all NET’s primary and secondary academies:  insisting on a relentless focus on standards; introducing collaborative learning; improving the quality of teaching in the classroom; and introducing a common assessment calendar for Years 6 and 11.

'We are committed to giving Ryecroft children the education they so richly deserve.”

Aside from its major investment in talented teaching staff, another important factor is the support NET brokered via the Northern Alliance  from the nearby Delta Academies Trust, based in Knottingley, Wakefield. As a result, Ofsted inspectors noted that leadership has improved and because, of the increased number of skilled leaders bringing solid experience and expertise, there are more resources available for improvement.   

Ofsted commented that the new principal had “hit the ground running, making rapid and positive changes and getting to know parents”.  They went on to say that her “hard work, commitment, dedication and fortitude have re-energised the school” and, although the school is not as far along in its development as it might otherwise be due to volatility in staffing, “leaders are taking effective action and it is conceivable, if improvement continues at the current pace, that the school could be removed from special measures in the required timescale”. 

Commenting on this latest monitoring inspection, Mrs Pearson said: “Over the last few months I have been encouraged by the pace of change. Everything has moved on: progress tracking of all pupils, which is essential, so we can benchmark success; improvements in teaching and learning are clear to see; teaching staff are more ambitious for their pupils; and our pupils have an appetite for learning.'

'The appointment of new staff has enabled the school to take a big step forward.'

We have begun to review the use of pupil premium funding,' continued Mrs Pearson, 'which was raised as an issue a year ago, and we have implemented a temporary strategy for improving outcomes for our most disadvantaged pupils.   

We have also implemented a new behaviour policy, which teaching staff are applying with increasing consistency. This has already led to improvements, and I was personally delighted to learn that Ofsted inspectors detected a “tangible improvement in the atmosphere around the school” too. We will continue to strengthen our approaches in this regard so that more pupils consistently work hard and are able to sustain better progress. 

We acknowledge that there is still much to do, and we cannot afford to slow down the pace of change for a moment, but I believe that the journey has convincingly begun. We are committed to giving Ryecroft children the education they so richly deserve.”

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