New Sunderland school told it 'requires improvement' in first Ofsted report

A new school has been told it “requires improvement” after its first inspection by education watchdogs.

Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 5:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 6:07 pm
The Beacon of Light School is "improving strongly" but has been told it "requires improvement" by Ofsted inspectors.

But the Beacon of Light School, next to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light football ground, is also “improving strongly”, say inspectors from Ofsted.

“Requires improvement” is the third highest out of four categories used to measure school performances.

Inspectors found that the quality of teaching at the school, which opened in 2016, is “too variable” and that the standards of pupil’s spelling, punctuation and grammar are too low by the time pupils leave Year 11.

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Principal Denise Taylor said the school has "a sound platform to improve further".

They also concluded: “The most able pupils are not challenged consistently well in their learning.”

Yet they acknowledged that “standards of behaviour have been turned around” and added: “The principal and her team, ably supported by knowledgeable trustees, have a good understanding of the school’s strengths and where things need to improve.

“Together they have a track record of improvement.”

The Beacon of Light School provides alternative provision for pupils aged 13-16 who are sent there on placements from mainstream schools.

The Ofsted report says many have social, emotional and mental health needs while “several have additional learning or behavioural needs”.

Sponsored by the Foundation of Light, Sunderland football club’s official charity, the school moved into its new home in September last year.

Principal Denise Taylor said the school was already addressing the improvements required by Ofsted and added: “We now have a sound platform to improve further and the plan is in place to do exactly that.

“We would like to thank all of our local schools who have sent young people to us, in order that we can provide them with the curriculum and environment they need to succeed.

“Being a relatively new school, this was undertaken in good faith and I am delighted that we now have so many positives from the report to assure our partner schools and local authorities that they can continue to send young people to us and be confident that we will do all we can to meet their needs.”

Lynda Brown, chair of trustees, added, 'Whilst there is a lot in the report that we are incredibly proud of, we are also focusing strongly on areas we need to improve.

“As trustees, we are delighted for Denise Taylor, our principal, who is described in the report as determined, effective, tenacious and at 'the heart of the Beacon family'.

“Of course, we, together with our young people and many of their parents and carers, know that, but it is good for the principal to have that endorsement from Ofsted."

The two-day inspection took place in July and before this summer’s Year 11 exam results revealed that the Beacon of Light was performing 76% higher than similar schools nationwide.

The school had 34 pupils on its roll at the time of the visit.