Farringdon Academy in Archer Road, Sunderland, was deemed to be good in all areas as inspectors praised the caring ethos of the staff, highlighting how “pupils enjoy coming to school”, and the provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who inspectors said were “supported extremely well”.
After informing staff about the change in the school’s grading, headteacher Claire McDermott said there was a “big cheer and a round of applause”.
She added: “All the staff are over the moon with the judgement. Everyone has worked so hard – teachers, governors and the children – and I’m just so pleased and relieved this was recognised.
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"I’m particularly pleased reading was identified as a key strength.”
A key focus of improvement was the development of the school’s curriculum which inspectors said had been “put right” by school leaders.
The report said: “Since the previous inspection, leaders have revised the curriculum in all subjects, from early years to Year 6. The curriculum sets out the knowledge and skills that pupils should gain, year on year.
"Subject leaders have strong subject knowledge. They offer guidance and support to ensure staff are confident to deliver the curriculum. This is ensuring most pupils remember what they have been taught.
"There are also many activities for pupils to join in during break-times.”
Lead inspector Kathryn McDonald was fulsome in her praise of the development of children’s literacy.
She said: “The reading curriculum is a strength of the school. The subject leader is knowledgeable about phonics and reading. She has expertise in the school’s programme for teaching phonics.
"She provides bespoke training to help all staff to deliver this programme. As a result, staff are skilled, and pupils are confident readers.”
The journey from requires improvement was unfortunately lengthened due to the Covid pandemic.
Mrs McDermott said: “We were judged as requires improvement in May 2018 and were due to be inspected much sooner but it was delayed due to the pandemic.
"We’ve been having to juggle the implementation of a new curriculum while at the same time having to negotiate the impact of lockdowns and the fact the majority of children were working at home.”
The new judgement certainly has the approval of pupils at the school.
Nathan Jones, 10, said: “The inspectors came into my lessons and I’m really happy we have been judged as a good school. I learn something new every day.”
Harry Armour, eight, said: “I spoke to one of the inspectors who asked me about my science lesson and the circuit board I was making. It’s good to be judged as a good school. I really like my teachers who make my lessons fun.”
Mia Ross, nine, added: “I felt under pressure and so I’m relived we’ve been judged as good. One if the best things about the school is the nurture room as it’s nice and peaceful there.”