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Neale-Wade Academy in March 'requires improvement' says Ofsted - but changes are already under-way

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A Fenland school has been found wanting in all areas by government inspectors following a two day inspection last month.

The Neale-Wade Academy in March has been rated as 'requiring improvement' across all sections by Ofsted inspectors. Previously the school was rated as 'good' in 2016.

However, the inspectors' report published today (Friday) said since then standards in the school have declined and a significant proportion of parents have lost faith in the school.

Principal Graham Horn took over the Neale-Wade in September 2020 and has already started to implement changes to improve the school.
Principal Graham Horn took over the Neale-Wade in September 2020 and has already started to implement changes to improve the school.

The report said : "Pupils have mixed views about life at the Neale-Wade Academy. While many are happy and enjoy school, a number of pupils and their parents say that they would not recommend the school to others. Pupils feel they have not always been well looked after."

The report said that parents' concerns about the behaviour and quality of education "are justified".

But it went on to say that is now changing following the appointment of new principal Graham Horn in September 2020.

Neale-Wade Academy in March. (53793738)
Neale-Wade Academy in March. (53793738)

It says: "From September 2020, the recently appointed principal, supported by the Active Learning Trust, has made swift changes. They have begun to make the school better for the whole community.

"The new principal and his team have quickly addressed how the school deals with bullying and behaviour. Unkind behaviour is not tolerated.

"Bullying is now dealt with much more robustly and effectively. While some bullying still remains, many pupils told inspectors that they now trust leaders and staff to deal with it and make it stop. Pupils are well supported by the pastoral team."

Neale-Wade in March has been rated as 'requiring improvement' by Ofsted.
Neale-Wade in March has been rated as 'requiring improvement' by Ofsted.

The school was praised for the support it provides to its weakest readers with inspectors describing it as a "strength of the school".

Inspectors also found: "Many pupils behave in a polite and courteous manner in and out of class."

Pupils told inspectors that behaviour around the school is much better now than in the past. As one pupil noted, ‘Teachers are much stricter now.’

The report says: "However, internal exclusions remain high. Not all staff use the behaviour policy consistently well. Some pupils’ learning is disrupted by poor behaviour. While pupils’ behaviour is improving, it is not good."

The inspectors recognised the work being done by the school's leaders, governors and the Active Learning Trust to make it better.

And said: "Staff at all levels understand that more needs to be done to improve the school and gain the trust of the school community once again. However, they also find that the workload involved in the changes they are helping to make is high."

Mr Horn, following the report's publication, said: “With the full support of The Active Learning Trust, all leaders and teachers at Neale-Wade Academy are working hard to regain the full trust of all parents and the wider school community.

“Each day we are taking steps forward to ensure positive progress is made at Neale-Wade Academy and our students’ abilities and aspirations are fully supported. This term has seen the reintroduction of lots more extra-curricular activities and visits which will lead to an enriching, broad educational experience for our students.

“I’m proud to be principal of this school and equally proud of the resilience shown by the school community over the last year and a half. We now hope for more settled times in education nationally for us to fully focus on our future.”

Stephen Chamberlain, CEO of The Active Learning Trust, said: “The Trust is working closely with Mr Horn and the school’s Governing body to improve the direction of the school. Positive progress has been made, as highlighted in the report, but we acknowledge there is more to be done.

“We have to raise that progress we have been able to make over the last 18 months has been impacted by the competing demands of the pandemic. The school had to predominantly focus on the health and well-being of students and staff and switching to a programme of remote learning over this time."

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