Ofsted praise for Sandon Meridian Academy as exam pass rates rise.
Students today welcomed a new era at their school after it was removed from special measures and relaunched under a different name. Ofsted inspectors say the former Sandon Business and Enterprise College, in Meir, has made ‘rapid improvements’ on the back of better teaching and ‘determined and relentless’ leadership. Pupils are also rising to the challenge of higher expectations and arrive at school ‘keen and eager to learn’. It has contributed to a dramatic increase in attendance.
Now known as Sandon Meridian Academy, the school was inspected at the end of the summer term, but the report has only just been published. Principal Gareth Jones said: “It’s been 18 months of determined effort and hard work. The biggest feeling now is pride.”
The latest report rates the school as ‘requiring improvement’ overall as the inspection took place before this summer’s GCSE results, which showed a 16 per cent increase in A* to C grades in English and maths. Maths was one of the weakest subjects when the school went into special measures. Now Ofsted has found pupils are tackling ‘difficult problems from Year 7 upwards’. Sandon has also managed to recruit a full complement of specialist staff, with teaching now seen as good across the board.
But the school’s legacy of financial problems has meant its move to become a sponsored academy has been delayed and is now likely to go ahead in the spring. Its proposed sponsor, Ormiston Academies Trust, has already been working closely with the school as part of a support package brokered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
The inspectors also praised the school’s wide variety of extra-curricular activities, which include Duke of Edinburgh awards, public speaking competitions, young enterprise projects and visits to universities. Last weekend almost 30 pupils also attended the Proms in the Park celebrations at London’s Hyde Park.
Ellie Brammer, from Parkhall, was one of the students involved in the event. The 14-year-old said: “We went as part of our work looking at British values”. “I’ve also just completed by Duke of Edinburgh bronze award. It’s helped me gain a lot of self-confidence.” She has noticed how the atmosphere at school has completely changed in the last 18 months. “Lessons are a lot more interactive and there’s more teamwork,” added Ellie. “In French, we’ve got games we play to help us learn the language.”
Fifteen-year-old Katie Newbon, from Blythe Bridge, said: “In science, we also work in a team or in pairs, so we can bounce ideas off each other.”
Ellie Oldham believes the biggest change has been in pupil attitudes. The 15-year-old, from Dresden, said: “Before, people just wanted to mess around.” “Now they’ve got something to aim for and they want to get good GCSEs.”
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