Valley Academy gets ‘good’ Ofsted rating

A STRICT stance on behaviour has helped Outwood Academy Valley to make rapid progress over the past year, according to its latest Ofsted report.

The inspection, which was carried out last month, praised students’ attitude to learning, improved attendance and ‘consistently outstanding’ behaviour.

The school, which is in the final stages of becoming an academy under the sponsored Outwood Grange Academies Trust, is now graded as ‘Good’ - 12 months after it was given a formal notice to improve.

It comes weeks after its sister school Portland dragged itself out of special measures after implementing the same approach to behaviour.

Principal at Outwood Academy Valley Rob Tarn said they have come along way in such a short space of time.

“In 2011 this school was told that it was inadequate and that there were serious concerns over student achievement,” he said.

“Today we are telling a completely different story. Outwood Academy Valley is now a school to be proud of, a good school where students’ achievements are high.”

“Usually when schools move from inadequate they are judged as satisfactory, it is extremely rare for a school to be judged as good.”

Valley has faced criticism since September from some parents over the new measures it adopted in tackling bad behaviour, with one pupil having been given a detention for taking off his tie outside the school gates.

Concerned dad Scott Stretton said his 11-year-old daughter was told off for taking a bottle of water out of her bag to drink in class at the start of the school year.

But he has since been impressed with the education his daughter has received under the Trust.

“They have been brilliant,” he said. “There has been a big turn around and now I’m even on first name terms with the head. They always make time for us and you can see the difference.”

The Ofsted report highlighted the ‘considerable improvements’ in behaviour and pupils’ understanding of different forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying.

Principal Tarn added: “We have high expectations of student conduct and have implemented systems which support this.”

“This is not, however, the focus of our work. As an academy we believe that the key to outstanding behaviour is to place greater emphasis and importance on achievements and high quality teaching.”

“Ofsted noted that enjoyment of learning is tangible in many lessons and we have worked hard to create a culture of learning in which students can thrive.”

“As ever, our focus remains on core value, students first.”

Lead Inspector Julie Price Grimshaw said the improvements have been driven by ‘outstanding leadership and management’.

“In order to make the school even more successful, we have asked leaders to ensure that the quality of teaching is improved further by increasing the pace of learning in a minority of lessons and also by ensuring that you are always given enough opportunities to learn actively and independently,” she said.

The inspector recommended teachers maintain a brisk pace to learning, give students more of an active role in learning and to provide regular high-quality feedback by September 2013.