John Smeaton Academy: Leeds school rated 'Good' as Ofsted praises 'startling transformation'

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A Leeds school has been awarded its best rating in years, as inspectors praised its “startling transformation”.

John Smeaton Academy was previously placed in special measures by Ofsted - and former ratings including “Inadequate” or “Requires improvement”.

But, in an impressive turnaround, inspectors have given it the stamp of approval, complimenting staff efforts in working with pupils.

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Sir John Townsley, Chief Executive Officer of The GORSE Academies Trust, has welcomed the latest Ofsted rating.Sir John Townsley, Chief Executive Officer of The GORSE Academies Trust, has welcomed the latest Ofsted rating.
Sir John Townsley, Chief Executive Officer of The GORSE Academies Trust, has welcomed the latest Ofsted rating. | Jonathan Gawthorpe

They visited between April 30 and May 1. As a result of their findings, the school has now been rated “Good”.

There was praise for pupils’ behaviour, clubs and activities, and quality of education, although a report did highlight attendance as an area that needs improvement.

It said: “Leaders and staff have worked closely with pupils to bring about a startling transformation at this school.

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“Pupils share the ambitions that staff have for them and value the kindness shown to them. This school is now a beacon for its community.

“Pupils, staff, parents and carers are right to be proud of all that they have achieved."

The report added: "Pupils experience many exciting trips and competitions alongside opportunities to give something back to the community.

“All of this, and more, helps pupils to flourish."

In the section of the report that highlights areas for improvement, inspectors said that attendance should be a focus.

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They added: "Some pupils struggle to attend school sufficiently often. This means that they miss out on important learning and wider opportunities.

“All staff know the role that they have in improving attendance. A range of strategies are in place, including schemes such as the 100% attendance club.

“Although there are green shoots of improvement in attendance, there is much more to be done."

The school was told it must “review and intensify actions to improve attendance”.

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However, achievements included the fact that students with special needs are "well supported", and staff working with pupils to "transform standards of behaviour". It also praised the fact that bullying, although rare, is “promptly addressed”.

The GORSE Academies Trust took over the school in 2021. Andrew Moncur, Principal at John Smeaton Academy, said: “I am delighted with what has been accomplished at John Smeaton Academy.

“Ofsted’s report is superb. But it confirms what we already knew – that this is now a really good school. “Today’s success is a real team effort that has taken place over three years. It’s down to the hard work and dedication of our students, our talented and committed staff, our supportive parents and the backing and expertise of The GORSE Academies Trust.

“Everyone involved with the school has played their part. I am proud of what we have achieved together.

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“This isn’t the end of the story though – we will keep working hard for every student here every day so that they have a great education.”

Sir John Townsley, Chief Executive Officer of The GORSE Academies Trust, said: “We will always stand ready to take on schools that need help – because the children and young people in those schools, and in every school, deserve it.

“It doesn’t matter if it is hard or difficult, our job as educators is to give children the best chance to succeed and fulfil their potential.

That is what we have done at John Smeaton Academy, and Andrew and his team deserve so much credit. They have done an exceptional job.”

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