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Friday, 21 November 2014

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Furness Academy in Barrow improves but "pace of change now needs to accelerate"

OFSTED has said that Furness Academy in Barrow “continues to improve but the pace of change now needs to accelerate.”

In the latest monitoring visit report released today the education watchdog says the Barrow academy is “making reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures”.

Ofsted said academy tracking data shows that “achievement continues to improve”, “the majority of progress seen by inspectors in lessons was good” and that “the quality of teaching is improving”.

The report says the school is spending approximately £40,000 on individual tuition for Year 11 students in English and mathematics, in an attempt to “address the legacy of underachievement”.

But while teaching is improving, Ofsted said it is “not improving fast enough” and that this is leading to “some low staff morale”, particularly among middle leaders.

Ofsted said the principal, Des Herlihy, has meticulously deconstructed the letter from the last monitoring visit and “successfully acted upon many of the issues”. Ofsted says that “clearly capacity is being built at senior leadership level.” It noted that “the leadership and management of behaviour and attendance are strengths of the academy and some senior leaders can demonstrate a very positive impact of their work”.

Exclusions have “reduced significantly” from the same period last year and “attendance is improving”.

Ofsted said since the previous monitoring inspection the principal’s post has been confirmed by the governors until July 2015. Two new English teachers, one mathematics teacher and one science teacher have taken up post and a member of staff has been suspended.

Mr Herlihy said: "I would like to commend the efforts our staff and students are making to raise standards.

"Ofsted has made a number of very powerful comments about teaching, progress and behaviour. No one should underestimate the weight of these judgements which clearly indicate that we are improving.

"While we are making progress, Ofsted has helpfully signalled that we must accelerate the pace of improvement if we are to come out of special measures on schedule. The key to improvement is to convert Ofsted's recommendations into actions.

"It is all about enabling students to transform their life chances through a good education. I would like to thank sponsors, governors and our parents and carers for their support."

Ted Creighton, chairman of the governors, said: “We are pleased with the positive tone of Ofsted’s latest report, but there is still much we can do to improve outcomes for students.

“Governors, and sponsors have a critical role to play in the success of any educational institution and it is no less so at Furness Academy.

"It is essential that we focus our efforts on promoting stronger team work between ourselves and the leadership team, not only providing a support and challenge role, but also holding the leadership to account for the successful delivery of their plans.

“We must strive to remove any existing barriers to learning so that everyone can see the role they must play in the whole school’s development and its ultimate transformation.”

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