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Leadership and pupil welfare deemed ‘Outstanding’ in Sutton Community Academy Ofsted report

Sutton Community Academy in Sutton-in-Ashfield has gained its first-ever ‘Good’ Ofsted rating, including ‘Outstanding’ elements, following an inspection in November 2016. The report states “pupils, parents and staff are almost unanimous in their praise” for the academy, which is part of Academy Transformation Trust.

Leadership is rated Outstanding, with Principal Tim Croft described as “focused unremittingly” on making improvements to the quality of teaching, pupil attitudes and pupil outcomes. Inspectors say that this focus has created “a culture of higher expectations of both staff and pupils”. Together with the senior leadership team the Principal has “embedded an ethos of high aspiration, hard work and sharply focused improvement”.

An Outstanding rating was also given for ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’, with Inspectors noting that pupils “develop in to confident, articulate and enthusiastic young people, who aspire to achieve the very best they can”. Support for pupils from a variety of backgrounds, and for those facing challenging circumstances is recognised as “exemplary”. Behaviour in the academy is of “an exceptionally high standard” which has created an environment where pupils “mix together well”. This results in pupils feeling “extremely proud of their school and the opportunities it provides for them”, a conclusion supported by a dramatic reduction in fixed term exclusions and no permanent exclusions in the past two years.

Inspectors praised Sutton Community Academy’s “comprehensive” guidance for pupils that ensures they are “well informed about their options for careers, education and training” in preparation for life beyond school. This is complemented by a spiritual, moral, social and cultural education that readies pupils for life in modern Britain. Pupils can “consider their place in the community, both within the school and beyond” through opportunities including a compulsory two-week citizenship placement for Year 10 pupils and ‘News Friday’, a tutor group event where pupils can express their views confidently on topical issues to aide learning and understanding of British values.

Teaching, learning and assessment was commended, with Inspectors recognising it as “good, with some that is of very high quality”. Using lead practitioners from within the academy and Trust to develop teaching has been “particularly effective”, and the curriculum is praised as “well-designed” and “adapted” to meet pupils varying needs. Through the high standard of teaching, Year 11 pupils with low starting points made progress that is “greater than the national average” with pupil outcomes “improving strongly” across many subjects. Inspectors state that this combination of careers advice and improved achievement is “securing better destination[s]” for pupils upon leaving the academy, including more disadvantaged pupils now continuing to study post-16 “because they achieve better grades than ever before”.

In the report, Inspectors hailed the contribution of Academy Transformation Trust to the governance of the academy as “committed and highly effective”. Inspectors say that Governors are outstanding and their “high levels of support and challenge” have contributed to the academy’s “considerable progress”. Governors are described as “passionate in their quest to improve outcomes for all pupils” which they achieve through having “high aspirations and expectations”. Highlighting the effectiveness of the Governors, Inspectors state “where they are not satisfied, they do not accept excuses, and set challenging targets for improvement”.

The result means that 90% of ATT secondary academies are now rated ‘Good’. This compares to 18% rated ‘Good’ on joining ATT.

Tim Croft, Principal at Sutton Community Academy commented: “This report confirms that Sutton Community Academy is firmly on course to secure an overall Outstanding rating, and is testimony to our commitment to provide the best education for all pupils. I am most proud that Ofsted have recognised that our pupils are truly outstanding, confirming a belief we have always held. This transformation was only made possible through the efforts of the whole academy team and so I am delighted that Inspectors viewed leadership at all levels as outstanding. I would like to thank the Trust, governors, teaching staff and support staff for their dedication to improving standards and most of all, I want to acknowledge the vital role of the pupils and their families in delivering this excellent report which is the highest achieving in the Trust and in all of Ashfield.”

Ian Cleland, CEO at Academy Transformation Trust commented: “I am delighted that the outstanding job that Tim Croft has done at Sutton Community Academy has been recognised by Ofsted. Tim has demonstrated his outstanding qualities for some time. It is also absolutely fantastic to have an Ofsted outstanding rating for personal development, behaviour and welfare for the pupils. The academy was very close to being outstanding overall and we have no doubt that this will be achieved at the next Ofsted inspection. Sutton Community Academy is a real exemplar of what the Academy Movement is all about, bringing excellent education to young people in communities that are challenged by deprivation and disadvantage. ATT is delighted that it has fulfilled its promise to the Sutton community and appreciates the contribution that has been made by all concerned – staff, pupils, parents and the wider community – to this achievement”.

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