Dorcan Academy has room for improvement

This Is Wiltshire: Dorcan Academy headteacher Dr Scott Sissons Dorcan Academy headteacher Dr Scott Sissons

AN IMPROVING academy still has some way to go, according to a recent Ofsted report.

Dorcan Academy, which moved into academy status in 2011, has had its first inspection, in which it was deemed to need further improvements.

Despite healthy exam results, with a rise in attainment this year, the inspectorate still judged more progress needed to be made.

The report said: “The academy has made slow headway in improving the quality of teaching. In consequence, students make no better than satisfactory progress in too many lessons.

“Challenge for higher attaining students in lessons is inconsistent, but is best in English and mathematics where the proportion of students making faster than expected progress rose significantly last year.

“The work of teaching assistants is particularly effective in supporting disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs, and enables this group to make similar progress to their peers.”

But some teaching was criticised, as lesson planning was found to be inconsistent.

“One consequence of this is that some lessons do not provide sufficient challenge for all groups,” said the report. “Time planning is a weakness in some lessons, leading to students not always being challenged to work at their optimum pace. This means there are too many pedestrian lessons.”

Students were found to be the strength of the school, as they are courteous and welcoming.

Scott Sissons, headteacher of Dorcan Academy, said: “HMI and the inspection team made it clear to us that the school cannot be judged as good until the exam results are above the national average and we absolutely take this on board.

“I would like to thank the many parents who regularly support us and made very complimentary comments about the school to the inspectors.”

Dorcan Academy is one of a number of schools currently being supported by Ofsted and Swindon Council to help it improve.

Paddy Bradley, head of commissioning for economy and attainment at Swindon Council, said: “We recognise there are improvements to be made.

“Our lowest performing area is secondary schools, and schools like Dorcan and Nova Hreod are benefiting from HMI’s experience. The focus is on understanding leadership and management, which includes governors, to work on what they are going to need to do.

“There should not be a drop in achievement, and we want to see steady progress. We have got to monitor students and keep the focus on teaching and learning. Schools in improvement strategies recognise the need for high standards in schools.

“Part of this is inevitable because we need focused, targeted teaching. But what has been encouraging this year is that attainment in maths has gone up across the board.”

Dorcan Academy was one of the top 100 schools in the country for sustained improvement in 2012. Dave Bell, chair of governors at Dorcan Academy, said: “The governing body wants to thank staff and students most sincerely for their tremendous efforts.

“Ofsted agreed with us that 75 per cent of teaching is good or outstanding, and we now need to make sure that all lessons are as good as the best.”

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