Our last inspection was on January 18th 2018, when we underwent was a Section 8 inspection, also known as a short inspection. This is a one-day inspection, with a small number of inspectors (usually 2 or 3) for schools which are considered to be good and of no concern. And, the report which results from a Section 8 inspection is not, strictly speaking, a report! It is a letter, addressed to the Principal of the school, which has a much narrower focus than a full report and is much shorter in length.
Indeed, it is important to be mindful that the purpose of a short inspection is not to provide a full and detailed summary of the school’s performance in all key areas. Rather it is to simply evaluate whether a school remains ‘Good’ by rigorously checking that:
- safeguarding is effective.
- the culture is sufficiently aspirational.
- leaders and governors have a good grasp of the school and it’s relative strengths and weaknesses.
- leaders have dealt with areas for improvement which were identified at a previous Section 5 inspection, or those
- weak areas which have come to light since.
- leaders are demonstrating the capacity for driving sustainable school improvement.
And, we were delighted that the inspection team confirmed that we met the above criteria with flying colours and that we are still a Good school with many strengths and on a strong upward trajectory of continued improvement.
In particular, we were delighted that the inspection team saw clear and compelling evidence that those few areas in need of improvement, such as Modern Foreign Languages, are improving.
Below is s a summary of the key findings from the report which I am delighted to share with you. And please be assured that these positive statements were not the result of teachers and students ‘putting on a show for Ofsted!’ The lead inspector was absolutely focussed on ‘typicality’ and so the letter reflects what the school is really like on a daily basis.
Principal, Erasmus Darwin Academy
Summary of Section 8 Letter
Following the visit of Ofsted
to EDA on January 18th 2018
*PLEASE NOTE THAT THE HEADINGS IN THIS SUMMARY DOCUMENT ARE NOT THE HEADINGS FOUND IN THE LETTER*
“You, your leaders and all staff show a genuine desire for pupils to be safe and happy while they achieve to the very best of their abilities.”
“The quality of care in the school and the school’s ethos of ‘excellence for all’ stand out.”
“Erasmus Darwin Academy is a strong community and relationships are exemplary across the school.”
“Morale is high. All staff who spoke to inspectors said that they are proud to work at the school.”
“Parents and carers value your leadership and the education that the school provides for their children.”
“An overwhelming majority of parents who responded to Parent View agreed that the school is well led and said that they would recommend the school to other parents.
“Parents said that their child is happy and safe at school”
“The leadership of safeguarding is strong, as is the scrutiny provided by the governing body.
“All staff understand that keeping pupils safe is their top priority. They are well trained and regularly updated about safeguarding issues “
“All pupils that we spoke to during the inspection said that they feel safe in school”
“All Parents who completed Parent View said that their children are safe in school, as did all members of staff we spoke to.”
“Pupils are friendly, courteous and well behaved”
“The number of pupils being excluded from school has fallen significantly.”
“The school is a calm learning environment.”
“Teaching is strong…and the great majority of pupils achieve very well as a result.”
“Teaching is particularly effective in English, mathematics and science.”
“Students demonstrate positive attitudes to their learning and act as role models to younger peers.”
“Over time, pupils at key stage 4 make progress that is at least in line with other pupils nationally.”
“The school’s curriculum offers a wide range of learning experiences, both in and outside of the classroom.”
“The curriculum includes regular teaching on how to stay safe, including from potential dangers that can arise when using the internet and social-media platforms. As a result, pupils have a good understanding of these issues.”
“The curriculum is enlivened by extra-curricular activities which pupils really value.”
“Pupils have the opportunity to study a range of academic and vocational courses at key stage 4 and in 6th form.”
“Leaders regularly analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum and adapt it as necessary.”
“The experience of students in the sixth form is having a positive impact on their progress.”
“Students are complimentary about their sixth-form experience and would recommend it to others”
“Retention is high because staff make sure that students are on courses that are appropriate for them and that they are well supported throughout their time in the sixth form.”
“All students benefit from personalised advice and guidance about their next steps. As a result of this, the vast majority move on to university, apprenticeships or training.”
Areas For Development
“Disadvantaged pupils and most-able pupils have performed less well in some subjects…especially in languages.
…(but) you have already got actions plans in place to tackle this issue.”
“…some less effective teaching remains, especially in languages.”
“Leaders and those responsible for governance should ensure that:
-pupils are not entered for examinations before they are ready, to enable them to make maximum progress.
-target-setting is aspirational while, at the same time, taking account of individual pupils’ needs and abilities to ensure that it motivates them to achieve their best.”
Capacity of Leaders to Drive Improvement
“Leaders have recently introduced new systems to monitor and track the performance of the school. These systems allow leaders to put well-focused plans in place to address any areas of underperformance. As a result, many areas of previous weakness have improved and are now strong”
“The school’s assessment systems have been restructured recently and leaders are now able to track, monitor and spot trends over time more easily. This allows them to act swiftly to put highly effective intervention strategies in place. As a result, pupils who need to catch up do so quickly and outcomes have improved. “
“You know your school very well, including its strengths and weaknesses. Your self-evaluation is accurate and understood by all, including governors. Your plans to address the few areas that need to improve are clear and appropriate and are underpinned by detailed action plans”