Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy contributes to Ofsted’s Good Practice Project
A report by Mark Wyss, Principal.
Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy was recently proud to be selected by Ofsted to take part in a project which will give national recognition to some of the great work done in so many different areas across the school. The particular focus of the report was on the exceptional outcomes achieved by those disadvantaged students who receive Pupil Premium funding. Ofsted’s aim was to highlight the outstanding work that takes place in OBA to support these students and share some of the many examples of best practice with other schools across the country.
OBA had many successful stories to tell and ideas to share because 57% of last year’s disadvantaged students in Year 11 achieved 5 or more GCSEs at grade A*-C including English and Maths, which was considerably higher than the national figure of 36%. Even more impressive was that this figure of 57% for our disadvantaged students was also 2% higher than the percentage of ALL students achieving 5A*-C including English and Maths, which stood at 55% nationally. When you consider that 64% of Year 11 students in OBA last year were in receipt of the Pupil Premium, compared to the national average of 28%, this made the students’ achievements in OBA stand out even more.
The two Ofsted inspectors who joined us had a very tightly-packed schedule to follow. This allowed them to observe teaching and speak to as many staff and students as possible about the huge range of strategies we have put into action and the impact of our allocation of Pupil Premium funds.
I am delighted to report that the visit was a huge success and Ofsted recognised that “The specialisms of English and Applied Learning permeate the curriculum and the academy provides an innovative learning environment that excites, stimulates and challenges students.”
Ofsted identified many areas of excellence but singled out our “exceptional” Transition Programme and the ‘Philosophy 4 Children’ enquiry-based classroom approach to learning as the main case studies to be shared with schools nationally.
Praising OBA’s Transition Programme, Ofsted commented that “Most secondary schools have a transition programme. However, what is different at OBA is the importance attached to the programme, with the consequent time and investment in ensuring that it is successful.” Inspectors went on to say that as a result, there has been “a shift from transition being on the periphery of the work of the academy, to it being seen as a key strategy for raising achievement.”
Other key findings on OBA’s Transition Programme that were noted by Ofsted highlighted the facts that:
- “The primary pupils gain from specialist teaching, in areas of the curriculum such as PE, music, cookery, science, and teachers value the sharing of good practice.”
- “OBA gains a greater understanding of the needs of the pupils who will transfer to them and are able to be pro-active, for example by planning interventions for as soon as students enter Year 7.”
- “One of the strategies that stood out was the strong working relationship between the academy and the primary school and the commitment both schools give to bridging the gap between primary and secondary education.”
- “Parents are more confident and feel familiar with the academy before their children transfer.”
Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy’s ‘Philosophy 4 Children’ Programme, which permeates teaching and is founded in discussion and deep questioning, was another key area which was identified as best practice by the Ofsted team. After observing some P4C driven lessons, Ofsted noted they were “impressive, as the responses of students showed interest, maturity and a willingness to engage with difficult and complex moral and social issues.”
Inspectors also added that the ‘Philosophy 4 Children’ Programme ensured that:
- “Students are confident speakers and are developing leadership skills.”
- “Teachers asked probing questions.”
- “The sessions were good examples of the risks teachers take in OBA in order to promote worthwhile learning.”
- “The lessons provided very challenging and thought-provoking material for students (and observer) alike.”
Overall, I am delighted that the students and staff at OBA have been able to help the Ofsted team with this important report. We are very proud of what we do for every single student in our care and hopefully sharing some of our best practice with other schools across the country will help them to raise the achievement of their disadvantaged students to similar heights. We are also excited about supporting Ofsted further with this project, as we have been invited to contribute to a DVD that will be produced as part of this dissemination of best practice.