Sunderland’s Farringdon Community Academy receives ‘Requires Improvement’ Ofsted report

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Education watchdogs have handed a Sunderland school its third damning Ofsted report in a row.

Inspectors published their latest findings from Farringdon Community Academy this month, marking it ‘Requires Improvement’.

And the result means it is now more than 10 years since the school, in Allendale Road, was last judged to even be ‘Good’.

But the assessment did hint that it may finally be starting to turn a corner, following the appointment of a new headteacher, Neal Holder, last year (2018).

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According to the report: “Upon his arrival in January 2018, the headteacher inherited a legacy of declining standards and poor progress.

“In 2016 and 2017, pupils’ progress was below average in the overwhelming majority of subjects.

“In the short period of time before the summer 2018 examinations, the headteacher was able to work with teachers to raise the proportion of pupils achieving strong passes in English and mathematics to a standard almost in line with national averages.

“However, overall progress from pupils’ starting points declined further.”

Ofsted assessors previously carried out full inspections at the school, formerly known as Farringdon Community Sports College, in 2016 and 2014, both of which marked it ‘Requires Improvement’.

Before it’s conversion to an academy in 2013, its last full visit had been in 2008, when it was found to be ‘Good’.

The latest report singled out the school’s leadership and governors for failing to react quickly enough to a slump in standards.

But they also conceded the pace of improvement had ‘accelerated’ since the appointment of Mr Holder, with higher expectations of pupils and new lesson plans also leading to improvements.

But inspectors also noted ‘variable’ teaching quality and added the rates of absence and exclusions were too high.

Defending his record so far, Mr Holder called the findings ‘fairly positive’.

“Ofsted are acknowledging the changes we’re putting in place are showing improvements in the running of the school,” he said.

“The report is what I expected, the team is very professional and supportive and they recognise the changes we’ve made have put a framework in place to improve the school further.

“The school’s improvement is a three-year programme of change and we’re two years into that process.

“I think what we’re putting in place now will ensure good results and at the next inspections it will be a ‘Good’ school.”

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service