New academy school in St Albans is improving according to Ofsted

Samuel Ryder Academy

Samuel Ryder Academy - Credit: Archant

A newly-named St Albans secondary school is on the up – less than three years after its predecessor was put into special measures.

The Samuel Ryder Academy in Drakes Drive, is on a “well-planned journey of improvement” according to the latest report from schools’ inspection service Ofsted.

In 2011 when the school was Francis Bacon, it was judged to be ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors and was placed into special measures.

It was subsequently taken over by the Sir John Lawes Academies Trust and in September 2012, it reopened as Samuel Ryder Academy (SRA), the first ‘all-through’ school in the county providing education from ages four to 19.

Ofsted carried out a two-day inspection at the end of last month and beginning of this and has moved SRA forward by one Ofsted grading from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’.

A spokesperson for the school explained that the overall judgement was always going to be limited because Ofsted judgements under the new inspection framework were driven by examination results.

The school had not yet been able to demonstrate progress in attaimment and achievement in public examinations over a sustained period of time because there had only been one set of GCSE results since it opened.

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He went on: “However, the Ofsted team noted that our tracking and monitoring show that exam results will improve considerably in 2014 and beyond.”

The inspection team was particularly positive about the progress made in the primary phase of the school, judging achievement, progress and quality of teaching as good.

The report also made it clear that there was real evidence of the good progress of current students across all key stages in both primary and secondary.

Among the other highlighted issues was strong leadership at the school, considerable improvements in behaviour and attendance of students and a well-led and rapidly-improving sixth form.

Headteacher, Matt Gauthier, said: “The Ofsted report is very much in line with what we were expecting. Since taking over the school we have spent a considerable amount of time laying the foundations for improvement by employing high quality teaching staff, re-organising the way that the school is managed and making exceptional improvements to the curriculum and facilities.

“All of the areas within the report that were identified as needing improvement are already within our school development plan and the next step for us is to move the school on to ‘good’ and then on to ‘outstanding’ which we fully expect to achieve.”

The primary school at SRA is now almost full and secondary admissions are expected to quadruple this year compared with two years ago.