An Ofsted monitoring inspection at the Royal Harbour Academy in Ramsgate has found improvements are being made with “more focused learning during lessons and less low-level disruption.”
The inspection was carried out on February 6 and is the first since the school was judged as Inadequate and having seriousness weaknesses in July 2018.
The academy, based on two sites at Newlands Lane and Stirling Way, was visited by six education inspectors in June and by two inspectors in July to gather more evidence, particularly about the sixth form, for the initial Ofsted grading.
The overall grading meant the school was not put in special measures but is being monitored over an 18 month period.
‘Steadied the school’
The first monitoring report has highlighted: “Since September, leaders have provided greater clarity than previously of expectations for pupils’ behaviour and how staff should structure lessons. These consistent messages have steadied the school, which has a purposeful atmosphere at both the lower- and upper-school sites. The headteacher has led the change in culture to one of openness and trust among staff, who in turn support leaders’ vision.
“Pupils report that the school feels calmer, with more focused learning during lessons and less low-level disruption than was the case previously.
“Drawing on expertise within Coastal Academies Trust, leaders acted decisively to improve the quality of teaching and learning.”
The inspector, however, adds: “Although there are positive signs of improvements in pupils’ work, it is too early to show sustained impact on the progress made by pupils across the school. In addition, there is a legacy of underachievement to make up, due to previously weak teaching.”
From Year 7 to Year 11
The inspector noted the changed curriculum for Year 7 students which reduces the number of teachers they receive lessons from and works on a primary school model but also draws on secondary subject specialist experience.
For Year 11 the inspector noted that the “2018 provisional GCSE examination results show some improvement on those of 2017, but pupils’ overall progress remained well below average. The school’s performance information shows that current Year 11 pupils are on track to reach higher levels of attainment this year. Dedicated staff offer Year 11 pupils a wide range of extra classes to help them overcome difficulties and to further improve their standard of their work.”
In 2017 students at RHA struggled with 12% achieving English and Maths combined passes at Level 4 or above. In 2018 that pass rate rose to 30.4%.
New staff and governors
Stronger governance was also highlighted, noting three new governors are now in post. A restructure at the school last year has also resulted in a new assistant headteacher and posts filled mainly with subject specialists.
However, improvements still need to be made in how pupil premium funding is used, tackling the under-performance of disadvantaged pupils and raising pupil attendance which “is improving but remains below the national average for secondary schools.”
The inspector concludes: “Leaders and managers are taking effective action towards the removal of the serious weaknesses designation.”
Head teacher Simon Pullen says he is pleased improvements have been recognised. He said: “ I am very pleased with the inspection report as it correctly recognises the continued improvements that have taken place at the Royal Harbour Academy.
“The inspector was impressed with our Year 7 provision and was clear that the teaching at the school, which is supported by our CAT partner schools of Dane Court Grammar School, King Ethelbert School and Cliftonville Primary School, is improving rapidly which is leading to better results.
“I am confident that the progress of pupil premium students, who are categorised as disadvantaged pupils, will continue to improve as the teaching also develops.”