Thursday 14th April 2016

Rockwood Academy is celebrating after being removed from special measures and rated good by education watchdog Ofsted.

The rating comes just two years after the school was deemed inadequate when it received its previous last full inspection in March 2014.

Since then, Rockwood Academy has appointed a new principal, senior leadership team, governing body and academy sponsor CORE Education Trust.

The academy has undergone a series of five monitoring inspections since September 2014, and last month Ofsted carried out its first full inspection in almost two years.

Inspectors were left impressed by the efforts to transform the education being provided to the school’s 590 pupils aged 11 to 16.

Ofsted has now rated the academy as good overall, as well as in every category it was inspected including pupil outcomes; quality of teaching and effectiveness of leadership and management.

Fuzel Choudhury, appointed principal at the school last September, was praised by Ofsted for his “passion and determination” which had “brought about rapid and considerable improvements to the quality of education.”

The report adds: “Staff praise and share the vision of the principal and recognise the rapid improvements he has brought about.
“They are proud to be part of the academy.
“Pupils testify to improvements in the quality of teaching and value the work of their teachers.”

The report continues: “Robust structures are in place to make certain that governors and leaders operate with transparency and act in the best interests of pupils.
“As a result, the Trust has ensured that the academy is protected against the systematic failures of the past.”

It praised the school and Trust for the “pioneering” work it had done with a number of external partners, including work with the Anne Frank Trust around the Holocaust, as well as project which has seen the academy last month being named a School of Tennis by the Lawn Tennis Association.

The report adds: “Extensive work to embed the ‘Prevent’ agenda has been supplemented by pioneering projects and a carefully planned curriculum to raise staff and pupils’ awareness of the dangers of radicalisation and extremism, and help develop the right attitudes so that they are protected against this.”

Inspectors said pupils were “relishing opportunities” to debate issues from gender to sexuality and discussed them with “maturity, demonstrating respectful attitudes towards different faiths and cultures.”

It praised teachers for “high expectations of pupils” and said students rose to the challenge “working hard and conscientiously”. And inspectors said: “Pupils are taught to keep safe; fundamental British values are promoted highly effectively.”

Principal Mr Choudhury welcomed the news, saying it was a reflection of the hard work and collaboration of staff across the academy and Trust, including teachers and governors.
“Since the day I stepped foot across the threshold of this academy my sole drive has been to improve the education of our pupils, they are what it is all about,” he said. “My approach has been relentless and I have been heartened by how staff, parents and pupils alike have embraced and shared my passion for positive change.
“It has undoubtedly been a time of challenge and the journey is not over yet.
“We will continue to drive forward until this academy is the outstanding school I know it has the capacity to be.
“I want to thank all those who have supported us and continue to support us on the way, including our wonderful parents and the community we serve.”

Meanwhile, Ofsted also applauded the work of CORE Education Trust’s CEO Adrian Packer, saying he was instrumental in reshaping the culture and ethos of the academy.

The report adds: “His strategic direction has steered the academy successfully through a period of great turbulence.”

Mr Packer described the Ofsted rating as a “remarkable achievement”.

He added: “It is immensely satisfying to have seen the school transform during what has been a challenging yet exciting two years.
“The fact that such a turnaround has taken place in such a short period of time is a remarkable achievement and testament to the hard work of our governors, teaching staff and our highly skilled principal.
“To know that we have changed the face of education for our pupils and are setting them on a path to a successful future is what continues to drive us to improve”.