EFFECTIVE action is being taken to address “serious weaknesses” at Dorcan Academy according to Ofsted.

This week, the education regulator published its first monitoring inspection report of the school since May 2016 when they identified a number of issues relating to leadership, teaching practices and student outcomes.

Now 18 months on, inspector Paul Williams said that leaders, managers and the school’s governing body now have a fit for purpose action plan in place and praised staff for the way they’ve tackled the criticism.

“Your restructured leadership team is eager to develop teaching, learning and assessment and secure improved outcomes for pupils,” he said in his report.

“Senior leaders have credible plans in place to improve the school and they are clear about their roles and responsibilities. They have ensured that teaching is now more consistent.

“You are keeping the curriculum under review and ensuring that it provides pupils with sufficient breadth of experience.

“Pupils’ progress, measured across eight GCSE subjects, remained below average in 2017. However, pupils’ progress in some subjects improved. For example, in GCSE English, pupils made better progress because teaching was more focused on the key skills necessary to succeed. However, pupils’ progress in GCSE mathematics did not improve and was below the national average for pupils with similar starting points. Last year, turbulence in staffing in mathematics hindered pupils’ progress.

“At the start of term, you introduced a new system to manage pupils’ behaviour. Pupils and teachers believe that this system is leading to improved conduct in lessons. The rate of fixed-term exclusions initially rose as a consequence of your higher expectations of pupils’ behaviour. The number of exclusions is now falling because pupils’ behaviour is improving.”

Dorcan was also praised for being outward looking and willing to work with and receive support from other organisations including the Excalibur Multi-Academy Trust, which the academy has secured approval to join.

The academy's governing body, which came under severe criticism at the previous inspection, was also commended thanks to the productive approach new chairman Phil Baker has taken to address gaps in governors’ knowledge and experience.

In response, Phil said: “The Governors recognise the relentless efforts that the Head and Staff have put in since the previous report. They have fully supported the Head in the significant changes that have been made to ensure the required levels of improvement. The Governors recognise that there is still much work to do but are very confident that the Academy is now moving rapidly in the right direction.”

Headteacher Sherryl Bareham said: “It was rather unexpected to have an Ofsted visit a day before the end of term and so long after the initial judgement which placed us into ‘serious weaknesses’.

"However, we are delighted that Ofsted has recognised what a different school The Dorcan Academy now is and the many improvements that have been made in the past year and a half.

“Having a label has made improvement even more difficult as some parents chose to send their children elsewhere and we lost vital funding as a result.

"I would like to thank the parents who have stuck with, supported and believed in us through this journey of improvement which is set to continue at an ever-increasing pace.

"I also wish to thank our dedicated staff who are willing to give everything to achieve our vision of being an ‘outstanding school, of first choice, at the heart of our local community.”