Principal vows to improve Sunderland academy after Ofsted report

John McGuinness, the Executive Principal of Academy 360 in Pennywell, with pupils.John McGuinness, the Executive Principal of Academy 360 in Pennywell, with pupils.
John McGuinness, the Executive Principal of Academy 360 in Pennywell, with pupils.
Education chiefs at a Sunderland academy say they are determined to improve its performance after its latest Ofsted report.

Inspectors praised the leadership of Academy 360 on a recent visit - but said it was ‘inadequate’ due to historic GCSE results.

John McGuinness, the Executive Principal of Academy 360 in Pennywell, said he was pleased the report, which follows an inspection in May, highlighted many positives at the school, but acknowledged that further improvements were still needed.

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The report said: "Weak teaching over time in the secondary phase has resulted in pupils failing to achieve as well as they should.

"Prior to the arrival of the recently-appointed secondary leadership team, a pattern of declining standards in key stage 4 was not tackled.

“The Executive Principal and the senior secondary leaders, who have been in post since September 2015, are tackling the weaknesses in the secondary phase with great determination. This is bringing noticeable improvements across the school."

Mr McGuinness said: "We’re at the start of a long journey, but we’ve made good progress in a short time and the Ofsted report recognises that fact.

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"We are proud that Ofsted inspectors said behaviour was good throughout the academy, in lessons and at break and lunchtimes.

"The Primary phase of the Academy is good throughout but the Secondary phase requires improvement.

"What will be pleasing for everyone involved with the Academy is that the report recognises the strengths in primary phase and the positive impact of change in the secondary phase. The report reflects the huge amount of work that has taken place in the last 10 months to move the Academy forward.

"We know GCSE outcomes weren’t good enough in the past. But the new leadership team appointed last year has taken huge strides forward in a very short time and what we can promise is a better education for all our students in the future."

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The Ofsted report described the academy’s Early Years provision was good, as was the leadership provided by the primary headteacher and leadership team.

But due to the historic outcomes for pupils at KS4, the overall effectiveness was judged as inadequate.

Effectiveness of leadership, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and personal development, behaviour and welfare were all judged to require improvement.

Forty per cent of the school’s secondary teachers have changed over the last year, and Mr McGuinness said these and other changes would deliver a better education for its 756 pupils whilst offering financial stability in the future at Academy 360.

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He added: "The results and recommendations from the inspectors come as no surprise, but we’re pleased they have recognised the significant progress since September 2015."

The academy opened in 2008 and became the city's first all- through academy, catering for pupils of all abilities from nursery aged four to Year 11, aged 16, and includes a ‘Hub’ as a local authority special school.

In the last three years, it has seen year-on- year improvement in primary KS2 SAT results meeting national expectations, but at the same time a decline in KS4 GCSE results.