Stour Academy

Strong and inspirational leadership

The strong and inspirational leadership of The Stour Academy Trust has been described as Outstanding by Ofsted. Our exceptional Ofsted results from schools within the Trust are demonstrative of our ability to rapidly improve outcomes for children.

Sturry 2015 - Outstanding in all areas

Inspirational leadership at all levels is a key factor behind this outstanding school’s success. It is the driving force that has raised standards and improved teaching.

An extensive programme of monitoring activities to check the quality of teaching enables leaders to plan individual support and effective training programmes. Teachers value this highly and express how much it helps them to improve their practice.

Teachers are held fully accountable for the progress their children make. Leaders make sure teachers’ pay and performance are closely linked to improved pupils’ progress and higher standards. Newly qualified teachers receive excellent professional training through the Academy Trust. As a result, they quickly develop into confident practioners

Subject leaders are very effective in their roles. They contribute significantly to school improvement by analysing assessment information, checking the quality of teaching and examining work in pupils’ books. Leaders are chosen for their expertise in a particular area and may be based in other schools within the Trust. However, they work alongside the teachers within each school to develop their skills and ensure continuity of practice. The school develops teachers in a similar way, to grow into future leaders and ensure excellence is maintained.

The additional funding for disadvantaged pupils is used very well. It has a positive impact on closing the gap between the standards they reach compared with other pupils nationally. Careful assessment of pupils’ needs ensures they receive appropriate support to enable them to succeed. This expenditure is carefully analysed by leaders and governors to make sure it being used to the best possible effect.

Adisham 2017 - Outstanding in all areas

The headteacher and trust leadership team have a clear and ambitious vision. It penetrates through every layer of the school so that everyone is working together effectively. This has resulted in outstanding provision.

Strengthening middle leadership is driving the school forward highly effectively for all groups of pupils, especially in English and mathematics.

The headteacher, together with trust leaders, has ensured that standards are high across all areas of the school’s work. School improvement initiatives arise from rigorous analysis of a wide range of information. High-quality training is delivered to all staff and improvements are closely tracked and monitored to ensure that they are working. As a result, improvement strategies are very effective and pupils’ achievement is rising.

Policies are understood by all staff and applied with consistency. Thus, pupils are supported in making rapid progress.

Middle leaders benefit from the leadership and mentoring provided by colleagues across the trust. For example, the science leader has worked alongside another leader to ensure that the pupils’ work is of a high standard. Support for middle leaders in monitoring teaching and tracking pupils’ progress effectively ensures that pupils have the skills that prepare them well for the next stages of their education.

Leaders facilitate effective regular moderation of work across the wider trust. This practice is valued by teachers and helps to ensure that standards across year groups and subjects are high in relation to age-related expectations.

Leaders are highly effective in ensuring that pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities are identified, and that the right provision is in place to help them to succeed. Special educational needs funding is put to good use. Leaders pay close attention to securing success for these pupils, both in the classroom and in the wider life of the school. Parents appreciate the effectiveness of this leadership and provision. One response to the Ofsted questionnaire, Parent View, which was typical, said: ‘My child has special needs and the school have been extremely helpful and supportive. They have been brilliant during the process of diagnosis and done everything to support him in school.’

Lansdowne 2017 - Outstanding in Leadership and Management and Early Years

Outstanding leadership by the headteacher has provided accelerated improvement at
Lansdowne. As a result, the quality of education for pupils has been transformed in
recent years, and overall standards and the quality of teaching have risen sharply.

Leaders’ unremitting focus on improving pupils’ outcomes has established and
stabilised a palpable culture of high expectations throughout all areas of the school’s
work. Leaders and staff demonstrate the highest aspirations for pupils to achieve well,
feel safe, and be happy.

The trust has been instrumental in supporting the headteacher to achieve rapid
improvements at Lansdowne. School leaders draw on the wide range of exceptional
expertise and support made available to them from within the trust. The trust shares a
strong determination to help school leaders deliver sustained improvement, and has
provided a broad range of high-quality support and challenge since sponsoring the
school.

Leaders have a strong and accurate understanding of the school’s overall effectiveness.They evaluate the quality of teaching to the highest standards, and focus clearly on pupils’ learning and progress. Particularly, leaders prioritise appropriately how well vulnerable pupils, including the disadvantaged and those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, achieve. As a result, pupils have been enabled to make good progress in all areas of their learning.

Middle leaders provide particularly strong support across the school. They work in
productive collaboration with trust colleagues to lead areas, such as monitoring and
developing the creative curriculum, highly effectively. They support teachers and
teaching assistants adeptly, which consequently enables senior leaders to focus more
freely on strategic whole-school development.

Leaders provide high-quality professional development for staff. They use their
accurate self-evaluation of the school’s effectiveness, and robust knowledge of
teaching standards, to provide training that has a positive impact on pupils’ outcomes.
For example, recent extended training on developing pupils’ reading skills has resulted in a demonstrable upsurge in pupils reading for pleasure.