Secondary school deemed inadequate by Ofsted set to be taken over by The GORSE Academies TRust

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A secondary school in east Leeds is set to be taken over by The GORSE Academy Trust following a series of interventions and inspections by Ofsted.

It was announced to staff and students of the John Smeaton Academy yesterday (Thursday) that changes are going to be taking place and that the school, off Barwick Road, will be leaving the United Learning Trust which has managed the school since 2014 when it became an academy.

It follows a raft of inspections and monitoring visits by government school inspectors who deemed that John Smeaton 'required improvement' at an inspection in December 2016 and was 'inadequate' at a further inspection in January 2019.

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There have been interim monitoring visits and inspectors said attendance was below average, exclusions are above average, teaching fails to meet the needs of pupils, progress is not monitored and leads to "serious under-achievement".

The John Smeaton Academy.The John Smeaton Academy.
The John Smeaton Academy.

Sir John Townsley, chief executive of The GORSE Academies Trust, said he was excited to be taking John Smeaton into the Trust as it is the school where he started his teaching career in 1987.

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"Going forward, John Smeaton needs to be the first choice school for its immediate community, which it has not been for many years and that pre-dates its time as an academy. For many years the community has lost faith in what the school is about. It is a great building but on its own, that is not enough. What it needs is great leadership and great teaching."

He added that the school wanted to create opportunities for students that are both beyond the usual curriculum and the class room.

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Sir John Townsley, chair of The GORSE Academies Trust.Sir John Townsley, chair of The GORSE Academies Trust.
Sir John Townsley, chair of The GORSE Academies Trust.

John Smeaton will be placed into the GORSE Trust's rowing programme with its own coaches and compete at national regattas. It will be part of the Mandarin teaching programme which was introduced to primary schools in 2018/19 and has been rolled out to secondary schools within the trust and also Elliot Hudson college. The trust also has links with Opera North and the Northern School of Dance.

Sir John added: "All of these things John Smeaton has not experienced to this point and that will change the aspirations of these children and social mobility. For example, we were the only state school there when we competed at Durham Regatta. This is all at the centre of exciting development activity that is taking place in east Leeds."

The United Learning Trust has been approached for comment.