Summerhill Academy rated Good by Ofsted

The Cabot Learning Federation is delighted and proud to announce that following an inspection by the education watchdog Ofsted in March, Summerhill Academy has been judged to be a ‘Good’ school and Outstanding in the area of personal development. This represents a jump from its previous judgement of ‘requires improvement’.

Inspectors noted that: “…there is infectious energy running through Summerhill Academy. Leaders have created a can-do culture. The ambitious curriculum supports pupils well to know more and remember more. Leaders have high expectations of pupils. Pupils make strong progress from their starting points. Staff love coming to school and are proud  of pupils’ achievements.”

Chris Barratt, Principal of Summerhill Academy, said: “We’re really proud of how well the Summerhill community came across during the inspection. It was a fantastic opportunity to show off the brilliant work we do every day to support children to achieve their potential. The children were all superstars and a true credit to the Academy. We have a great staff team, and they are all really excited to continue our successful journey into the future.”

Ofsted’s report continued: “There is a strong sense of community within and beyond the school walls. Pupils, parents and staff are proud of their school. Pupils have a strong understanding of and respect for the diverse community they belong to. The school’s values of ‘be kind, safe and respectful’ are followed consistently by everyone.

“Pupils behave sensibly and low-level disruption is rare. They care about their work and take pride in what they do. Improving pupils’ behaviour was a priority at the previous inspection. Leaders have tackled this well. Pupils accept that bullying occurs, but very rarely. They know adults will deal with it well.”

The report adds: “Pupils feel safe at school. They know they can share concerns with adults if the need arises. Staff know pupils well. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this knowledge  of pupils and families has deepened.

“Leaders at all levels have taken effective action to improve the school since the previous inspection. Staff describe it as like working at an entirely different school. “The principal has the support of staff and parents. Staff feel valued and invested in. Leaders use a wealth of information to support the school on its improvement journey. Their accurate evaluation of the school has helped this support to have maximum impact.”

On pupils the inspectors said: “Pupils are excellent ambassadors of the school. Leaders’ work to support pupils’ personal development is exemplary. They value this support on a par with academic subjects such as reading and mathematics. Pupils discuss topics such as consent and the importance of respecting each other’s personal and physical space with incredible knowledge and maturity. Themes such as different types of bullying, fundamental British values and the school’s place in the community are well known by pupils. It is at the heart of what they do and learn.

“Over time, the number of pupils who start school with gaps in their phonics knowledge has increased. Leaders are rightly tackling this as a whole school priority. They have provided training for staff and invested heavily in reading books to meet this increased demand. Leaders pinpoint gaps in pupils’ knowledge. Staff ensure phonics lessons focus on the sounds pupils need to learn and provide reading books  that match the sounds pupils know.”

Ofsted’s report also noted: “The school’s reading curriculum is more embedded. Leaders have prioritised developing pupils’ oracy and vocabulary acquisition. This work is paying off. Teachers guide pupils to use sophisticated sentences. Pupils use these seamlessly in their conversations with adults and their peers. They speak with increasing confidence, including disadvantaged pupils and pupils who speak English as an additional language. Pupils describe reading as a ‘lifelong lesson’, recognising its importance in everyday life.”

The report also noted: “Across other subjects, the curriculum is well established. Teachers are familiar with what they need to teach and when. The curriculum is sequenced in a helpful way, building on pupils’ prior knowledge effectively. Staff support pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) well. Pupils work with increasing independence. Teachers keep a close eye on how pupils with SEND are getting on. They use this information to decide what pupils need to learn. However, they do not  consistently pinpoint these pupils’ precise next steps.

“Pupils behave well and enjoy their lessons. Leaders monitor pupils’ punctuality and attendance closely. They have taken positive steps to improve the attendance of pupils whose rate of attendance was lower than their peers, particularly disadvantaged pupils.”

On safeguarding, Ofsted said: “The arrangements for safeguarding are effective. Staff’s recruitment processes are robust. Leaders carry out the necessary checks to ensure they only appoint adults suitable to work with children. They ensure staff have the training they need to spot and record any potential signs that pupils may be at risk of harm. Leaders monitor concerns about pupils’ welfare closely. They take swift, decisive action, passing on concerns to external agencies when needed.

“Leaders and staff know pupils and their families well, including those who have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. This helps leaders to provide families with support and help promptly.”

Kate Richardson, Executive Principal for Cabot Learning Federation (CLF), said: “Summerhill has a long-standing relationship with CLF. We are particularly proud of this outcome because it accurately reflects improvement in the quality of provision at Summerhill over time, and the hard work and dedication of a great staff team working closely with their community of learners and their families. Summerhill’s commitment to developing outstanding citizens is obvious to us; it’s great to have the hard work of the community recognised in this outcome.”