Pupils’ behaviour improving but better targets are needed

John Innes, Balby Carr Community Academy Headteacher. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP 09-06-15 Innes MC 1
John Innes, Balby Carr Community Academy Headteacher. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP 09-06-15 Innes MC 1

Youngsters’ behaviour is getting better at a Doncaster secondary school which was told it must improve by Government inspectors.

Officials have published a report on work being done to turn Balby Carr Community Academy around after an inspection earlier this year concluded that the school required improvement.

After the latest inspection at the school, one of the biggest in Doncaster, Ofsted inspector Nick Whittaker said senior leaders and the governors were taking effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement for it to

become a good school.

In a letter to headteacher John Innes, Mr Whittaker said: “The headteacher and senior leaders are taking swift and purposeful action to tackle the weaknesses identified.

“Leaders have an accurate view of the academy’s strengths and weaknesses and know what needs to be done to move the academy to good.”

The latest inspection found pupils behaviour and their attitudes to learning were improving. The academy was more orderly and pupils were more polite and respectful to adults.

Pupils responded more confidently to teachers’ questioning and their books and folders showed a growing pride in their work.

Leaders at the school had a more secure view of the attainment and progress of students because teachers’ assessments are more accurate, and senior and middle leaders were routinely checking that they were correct.

But teachers did not always make good use of the information and, as a result, the work set for some students was still too hard or too easy.

Leaders were only just beginning to use assessment information to identify when students were underachieving and provide the extra help, faster, that students needed to get back on track.

Higher-quality marking in books and folders was now helping pupils to identify and correct errors in their work.

But Mr Whittaker said that youngsters did not always develop and deepen their knowledge and understanding well enough because they had too few opportunities to use and apply what they are learning, for example by solving problems or tackling exam-style questions.

The letter said the academy’s improvement plan was closely linked to the areas for improvement that were identified at its most recent inspection, but did not focus sharply enough on how key groups of students, especially disadvantaged students, will make faster progress.

The report said the school, on Weston Avenue, did not have specific and measurable enough targets for disadvantages pupils or describe how the academy’s actions would be monitored and reviewed.

Governors are now already better informed about important areas of the academy’s work and are not afraid to challenge when improvement was to slow, it added.