Progress made as academy shows ‘hunger to improve’

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Teaching at Heron Park Academy has shown “pleasing signs of improvement”, according to Ofsted – but there is still work to be done.

The academy, in Hampden Park, which is part of the Aurora Academies Trust (AAT), was rated ‘requires improvement’ over all for the second time following a two-day inspection in May.

This inspection, though, saw Heron Park receive ‘good’ ratings for leadership and management, early years provision, and the development, behaviour and welfare of the children – an improvement on its last report in 2014.

In her report, lead inspector Abigail Birch said: “School leaders know what needs to be done to improve the school. They have high expectations of teachers and pupils, and have brought about some improvements to teaching; consequently, pupils’ progress is improving, particularly in reading and writing.”

Attendance had improved and was found to be in line with national expectations, while the children were described as “polite and have good attitudes towards learning”. Older pupils in particular we seen as good role models.

Heron Park was formed in 2011 following the merger of Highfield Junior School and Hampden Park Infant School.

Executive headteacher, John Greenwood said: “Heron Park was one of the lowest 200 performing schools in the country when Aurora took it on and therefore the road to turn it into a good school has been a long one, but we are nearly there.

“Leadership at all levels is now judged to be good which demonstrates that the academy’s current leaders are the right people to secure Heron Park’s future success.”

Following her inspection, Ms Birch said pupils at Heron Park knew they were expected to work hard and added: “Staff share a hunger to improve the school for the pupils in their care.”

When it came to the improvements needed to gain a higher rating, she said the quality of teaching was not consistently good throughout the school and needed to be improved to ‘good’ or better.

When it came to reading, writing and maths, and Ms Birch said too many pupils were still working below the standard expected for their age, and the proportion working at the expected standard needed to increase.

While those targets may appear challenging, most parents spoken to during the inspection felt Mr Greenwood and his team were up to the task.

Ms Birch said: “The vast majority of parents and staff are overwhelmingly positive about the impact that leaders have made on improving the school.

“One parent captured this by saying this is ‘a school moving in the right direction with a positive approach to welcoming pupils, parents and visitors’.”

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