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 schools 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.


Hersden 2018 - Good

Hersden Village Primary School has gone from strength to strength under the stewardship of The Stour Academy Trust. Your appointment as headteacher in September 2017 was the latest step in the trust’s successful programme of developing and promoting leaders from within their schools.

The steady, careful growth of the trust has allowed leaders and teachers to collaborate more and more. Trust leaders add expertise to all schools, including Hersden. This benefits staff, who are able to collaborate with planning and teaching, and also moderate assessments together.

Leaders have introduced a new well-thought-out programme that develops pupils’ skills as a reader, building on their strong phonics knowledge. Highly effective teaching by teachers and teaching assistants is leading to current pupils making rapid and sustained progress in developing their knowledge, understanding and skills, both in word reading and in comprehension.

Finberry 2018 - Good

This is a rapidly improving school due to the effective partnership between leaders from both the school and The Stour Academy Trust.

The trust gives effective support and challenge to the school’s leaders. The deputy chief executive officer (CEO) has worked particularly closely with school leaders during the recent phase of rapid school growth. Trust leaders have successfully recruited, developed and retained high-quality school leaders, teachers and other staff. Close collaboration with other schools in the trust has enabled leaders and teachers to improve their skills further

School and trust leaders at all levels share an accurate understanding of the strengths of the school, as well as those aspects of the school which could be even better. This has led to helpful bespoke training and support. The impact of this can be seen in the improvements in the quality of teaching and the consistent approaches across the school.

Thistle Hill 2018 - Requires Improvement

The new headteacher has quickly established a clear and accurate understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses. In taking effective action to instigate improvement, she is ably supported by the deputy chief executive officer and two expert curriculum advisers from the trust.

Leaders’ effective use of additional funding to recruit a parent support adviser has resulted in a reduction to both persistent absence and exclusions for disadvantaged pupils. These pupils are now beginning to attend more regularly as a result.

Leaders’ effective use of the sports premium is having a positive effect on pupils’ health, well-being and social skills.

Richmond Academy 2019 - Requires Improvement

Officers and trustees of the Stour Academy Trust have high expectations and are relentless in securing the necessary improvements. They are systematically reversing past weaknesses and creating a culture of achievement in the school.

Since becoming the school’s sponsor in January 2017, officers and trustees of the Stour Academy trust have wasted no time in getting to grips with the many issues that confronted them on their arrival. The chief executive officer (CEO) has overseen a transformation in the culture of the school, raising expectations and putting in place new leadership, policies and procedures.

Hersden Village Primary School 2019 - Outstanding in Leadership and Management and Early Years

The headteacher’s commitment to providing the best possible education for pupils is strongly reflected in the united sense of purpose and determination of the leadership team. High expectations, ambition and the pursuit of excellence are shared by leaders at all levels. There is no complacency, but a steely determination to build on current successes and secure further improvement, especially in pupils’ outcomes.

The strong and highly effective collaborative leadership from both the school’s and trust’s leaders has ensured that the quality of teaching and learning remains a constant focus and outcomes for pupils are improving.

Leaders are attentive to the well-being and workload of staff and staff feel well supported.

Senior leaders know the strengths of the school extremely well through their incisive and effective checks on the quality of teaching and learning and pupils’ progress. As a result, priorities are correctly identified and detailed plans for further improvement are established. There are clear milestones, identifying when things will be achieved. These help leaders, governors and trustees to assess the impact and success of actions. If any weaknesses in teaching are identified, a range of support and guidance is established to ensure that pupils’ learning is not compromised and that improvement in the quality of teaching is expected.