Sunderland school has 'improved rapidly' less than two years after it was branded inadequate

Education watchdogs say a school branded inadequate less than two years ago has “improved rapidly”.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 4:45 pm
Hijab Zaheer, principal at Red House Academy, with pupils Robyn Rowe, Ellie Clark, Keaton Cairns, Samuel Main, Ellie Lock and Aryan Kumar following the school's good Ofsted report. Picture by FRANK REID.

Red House Academy, in Rutherglen Road, Sunderland, has risen two grades and is now rated good, the second highest of four categories, by Ofsted inspectors.

School leaders have welcomed the rise as “phenomenal and not something that is often repeated around the country”.

The inspectors’ report followed a two-day January visit and concluded: “Red House Academy has improved rapidly.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Red House Academy principal Hijab Zaheer with pupils, left to right, Robyn Rowe, Ellie Clark, Keaton Cairns, Samuel Main, Ellie Lock and Aryan Kumar. Picture by FRANK REID.

“Pupils and staff can all feel the difference. Leaders have done an excellent job of raising everyone’s expectations.”

Ofsted’s last full inspection, published in March 2018, gave the school the lowest grade possible and cited “a decline in standards” with pupil outcomes and behaviour among the areas contributing to the overall inadequate verdict.

This year’s report, however, said: “The leadership team has addressed the weaknesses and instilled a new sense of pride in the school.

“It has appointed new teachers, broadened the range of subjects available and transformed behaviour.

Hijab Zaheer, the principal at Red House Academy, said: “We are delighted that Ofsted now deem this a good school in all areas."

“The leadership team has begun to introduce a new, more demanding curriculum. Pupils are thriving.”

It also added: “Incidents of bullying have reduced dramatically.

“It still happens occasionally, but pupils report it and the staff sort it out. Pupils feel that the staff really care about them.

“Teachers are going the ‘extra mile’ to help Year 11 pupils in the run up to GCSE exams.

“They know these pupils were not taught well enough in the past and are trying to put this right.”

The school, part of the Northern Education Trust, made national headlines last year after figures revealed that more than half its pupils received a short-term exclusion during the 2017-18 academic year.

Yet the 2020 report noted that “the use of exclusion has fallen sharply”.

Hijab Zaheer, who became principal in October 2019, said: “We are delighted that Ofsted now deem this a good school in all areas.

“The children at this academy are talented, articulate and very intelligent and we believe they can go on and achieve great things. We are a dedicated and determined set of staff who work tirelessly for our students.

“The academy has a lovely, calm and caring feel and the acknowledgement that what we are doing is right for our children is pleasing.

“However, as ever, our main focus remains on continually improving and wanting to do even better so that all our students can fulfil their potential.”

Executive principal Michael Robson added: “The trust has done a tremendous job to transform Red House Academy.

“The rise in Ofsted rating is phenomenal and not something that is often repeated around the country.

“The trust and our staff were always utterly convinced that the children here are terrific young people and that they deserved the very best education we could give them.

“We are all ecstatic that the hard work of students and staff has now been recognised.”

The school, which caters for pupils aged 11-16 and has 433 children on its role, was challenged to broaden its curriculum further by inspectors while “absence remains above the national average”.