Sir Bernard Lovell Academy in Oldland Common still needs to improve, says Ofsted

Four years on from the Ofsted verdict that it was an Inadequate school, The Sir Bernard Lovell Academy in Oldland Common still needs to improve, says the education watchdog.

In March 2014, Ofsted gave the lowest grade for the achievement of students, the quality of teaching and leadership and management, while the behaviour and safety of pupils was said to require improvement. Before being put into special measures in 2014, the school had enjoyed an Outstanding rating.

The Wellsway Multi-Academy Trust took over the running of the school from South Gloucestershire Council in 2015 and the inspection report published today is the first since it became an academy.

The report says that “following a period of underperformance, important and sustained actions are being taken to improve the school”, but it nevertheless requires improvement in all key areas.

Pupils are not making the progress they should, particularly in Key Stage 4. Improvements to behaviour are not yet having a strong enough impact on pupils’ attitudes to learning, and leaders are not yet having enough impact on the quality of teaching.

Pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities and the most able do not achieve as highly as they should. Teaching does not consistently meet the needs of these pupils.

Dean Anderson

Although the attainment of disadvantaged pupils is rising, there remains a significant legacy of underachievement for this group.

There is also said to be too much variability in the quality of teaching within and between subjects. Staff are not making effective enough use of data and assessment information to improve learning.

Too much teaching does not provide enough challenge. This is particularly the case for the most able pupils, including in the sixth form, where enrichment and the provision for students’ personal development are also too weak.

However, Ofsted does praise principal Dean Anderson for providing “effective and determined leadership” which has secured strong support throughout the school.

It says important steps have been taken to improve leadership capacity at all levels and the governing body is making a more effective contribution.

Achievement is rising in many subjects. This is a result of improvements to teaching and the curriculum, particularly in key stage 3. Pupils’ attainment in English is at least in line with standards nationally and is rising further.

And behaviour is also improving. There is a much better climate for learning throughout the school. Leaders are working to improve attendance and reduce the use of exclusion as a sanction.

Mr Anderson said he recognised there is still a lot of work to be done: “We are really pleased with the inspection report as it clearly supports our own judgements of the educational experience of our students. Nothing in the report has come as a surprise as leaders at all levels have thoroughly evaluated our provision. We know exactly what we need to do to improve the quality of teaching and learning at the academy. 

“We are taking urgent action to introduce more challenging lessons, step up our extra-curricular provision and ensure our sixth-form provision overall prepares students for life beyond school. We are also continuing to work hard to reduce exclusions and improve attendance.”

And Andrea Arlidge, chief executive officer of the WMAT, said: “The inspection proved a very positive experience for the staff at the academy. All at WMAT are pleased that the hard work that has gone into improving the educational experience for learners at SBL is starting to pay off and outcomes are improving.

“We fully support the work of the principal and leaders in the academy to build upon this rapid progress and further improve the quality of education for students in this community.”