Northampton school improves but the quality of teaching is still inconsistent, says Ofsted

editorial image

A Northampton secondary school says it has made positive steps after being rated as ‘requires improvement’.

Malcolm Arnold Academy in Trinity Avenue, Kingsthorpe, was given an ‘inadequate’ rating by Ofsted last April. But a new report has praised the school for the progress it has made since its last inspection.

Summarising the school’s strengths Sally Smith, the lead inspector, said: “The headteacher is held in high regard by staff, parents and pupils. A culture of high aspirations is developing and pupils’ outcomes are improving.”

But it did point out that behaviour in lessons sometimes falls below standards when pupils are not challenged. It also had reservations about some of the teaching.

Mrs Smith said: “Despite important improvements since the last inspection, the quality of teaching in some subjects and key stages is still inconsistent.

“Teaching is not yet consistently good across the school and as a result not all pupils make good progress.”

However, the inspection team found that “important improvements” are being made that are raising standards of teaching and ensuring that students are achieving their potential.

Chris Steed, headteacher, said: “What I think really comes across in the report is not only how passionate and dedicated my staff are to support all of our pupils, but the steps we are taking are having an immediate and transformational impact on student outcomes.

“I have been leading the academy for a little over a year, and I have been incredibly impressed with how staff and students are embracing the standards that are demanded and the challenges that are being set.

“There can be no denying that there is still more to do but, as the report makes clear, we are moving in the right direction with purpose and pace.

Among the inspections team’s findings, they found that:

- A culture of high aspirations is developing and pupils’ outcomes are improving

- Leaders have taken prompt action to tackle underperformance

- There is a wide range of extra-curricular activities, particularly in sport and music, which broaden pupils’ experience

- The support provided for pupils who have special educational needs or disability is strong and enables them to make good progress

- One student said that “teachers have had a big impact on my life and have helped me become a better person” and another staff member talked about the “buzz and excitement” that is growing around staff training and development.