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How an ‘inadequate’ school tore up its curriculum and turned things around

A school that was put in special measures six years ago tore up its curriculum and brought in a new personal development policy to spark a huge transformation.
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Copley Academy Stalybridge

Copley Academy, based in Stalybridge, was rated as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted back in 2018, and since then the school has been working hard to improve behaviour, expectations and the delivery of education.

During a visit at the start of June, reviewers from the education watchdog praised school staff for their high ambition and the positive changes made by the school – giving them a new rating of ‘good’.

Copley Academy, Stalybridge

The Huddersfield Road site scored ‘good’ in every marking category used by Ofsted relating to quality of education; behaviour and attitudes; personal development; and leadership and management.

The school has seen a sharp rise in performance since 2018. After getting graded as ‘requires improvement’ in 2021, this latest inspection report makes two successive bumps in six years.

High academic achievement

In addition to the ‘calm and respectful’ behaviour of the pupils and the new curriculum leading to high achievement academically, the school was also praised for providing a wide range of opportunities to promote pupils’ personal development.

The inspectors said that pupils are encouraged to be independent as learners and they all, including those with SEND, benefit from a wide range of extra-curricular activities, including many trips to places abroad and closer to home.

Academy principal Ruth Craven

The academy principal Ruth Craven, who took up post in June 2020, has been credited with steering the ship towards success during her four-year stint.

The principal said: “I am absolutely thrilled that we have received the Good grading and report from Ofsted. I would like to thank all involved in our journey to Good.

“It is a massive accolade of the improvements we have made, and I am really proud of all of our achievements. As a committed and dedicated team, we endeavour to continue improving the provision at Copley Academy in our journey to Outstanding, and we are relentless in always striving to provide an exceptional education for students.”

When asked how the school has achieved such a change in fortunes over the last four years, she explained that rewriting the curriculum was the centre of the overhaul plan. Additionally the team implemented a high-quality personal development program where students have benefitted from the vast opportunities available, an effective rewards and behaviour policy, and ensured all colleagues have the necessary training to be experts in their roles.

Aiming for outstanding

The inspector team consisting of Timothy Gartside, Paula Crawley, Deborah Bailey and Phill Walmsley added in their report, published on July 10, that the school can still improve further to achieve their ambitions of outstanding status.

This included perfecting the delivery of their curriculum, bettering behaviours by applying the behaviour policy and reducing the number of student absences.

Brendan Loughran, CEO of Great Academies Education Trust

Brendan Loughran, CEO of Great Academies Education Trust, said: “This Ofsted judgement is well-deserved for Ruth, and the wider Copley Academy community. It is a great example of an academy school thriving in a Multi-Academy Trust, where we can draw on our expertise and resources to rapidly secure school improvement”.

“When I was appointed to the CEO position in 2019, the trust’s four schools were graded as one good, one requires improvement and two inadequate. Five years later, three schools are now graded good and the remaining one previously judged as requiring improvement is well on its way to securing the improved grading.

“This confirms Great Academies Education Trust’s status as a strong trust with both the capability and capacity to improve schools”.

You can find out more about Copley Academy by clicking here

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