Barbara Priestman Academy

Name Barbara Priestman Academy
Ofsted Inspection Rating Good
Inspection Date 28 January 2015
Address Meadowside, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, SR2 7QN
Phone Number 03339991453
Type Academy (special)
Age Range 11-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 151 (80% boys 20% girls)
Academy Sponsor The Ascent Academies' Trust
Local Authority Sunderland
Percentage Free School Meals 48.1%
Percentage English is Not First Language 1.3%
Persisitent Absence 22.9%
Pupils with SEN Support 0%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

Information about this school

Barbara Priestman Academy converted to become an academy school in August 2012. When its predecessor school, Barbara Priestman School and Technology College, was last inspected by Ofsted, it was judged to be good overall. Barbara Priestman was a founding member of the Ascent Academies’ Trust. The academy provides for students from Sunderland and other local authorities who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum conditions or other complex learning needs. All students have a statement of special educational needs and/or education, care and health plans. The proportion of disadvantaged students supported by the pupil premium is about average compared with national figures at just under a third of the student population. (Pupil premium is additional government funding for students up to the end of Key Stage 4 who are known to be eligible for free school meals and/or are looked after by the local authority). Almost all students are of White British heritage. About 80% of the student population are boys which is typical for such provisions. About 40% of the students are in the sixth form. Although the majority of students enter the academy at Year 7, students are admitted at any time, especially at Year 9 and into the sixth form. No academy students currently access alternative provision. Ascent Trust has recently established 19 to 25-year-old provision in partnership with Sunderland College to provide appropriate courses to academy leavers who wish to remain in education within the local authority. A new sixth form building was opened in the summer of 2014. The academy has applied for an Academy Capital Maintenance grant with matched funding in order to refurbish and extend the existing building. The academy has gained a number of awards including Investors in People Gold, National Autistic Society accreditation, Thinking Schools, Arts Mark Gold, National Foundation for Educational Research Mark and International Schools Award.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is a good school. The headteacher is highly ambitious for the academy. She leads a committed and highly effective staff team who have the highest expectations for their students. As a result standards are rising. English and mathematical skills are practised in all subjects so that students achieve GCSEs and other external awards which reflect the good progress they make from usually low starting points. The quality of teaching is consistently good. Teachers and teaching assistants use a range of strategies, including questioning, extremely well to help students develop their thinking skills. The quality of teaching is improving through an excellent system of performance management which drives professional development. All staff are involved in research projects which provide information to improve staff practice and this is shared with the other academies in the Trust. The curriculum is exceptionally rich and varied to match the different needs, interests and abilities of the students. It ensures students’ personal development is exceptional. Their spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding is developed extremely well to prepare students for their future lives. Students enjoy excellent relationships with staff and this supports outstanding behaviour and helps them to feel very safe. Students have extremely positive attitudes to learning and work hard in lessons. The sixth form is good. Teaching is at least good in an exciting curriculum. Students mature into responsible and considerate young people who are ready to take their place in British society. The partnership work with other special school academies in the Trust is driving forward school improvement. The academy has an excellent capacity to improve further. It is not yet an outstanding school because : The quality of teaching is not yet outstanding. The steps taken to remedy a particular weakness identified in the teaching of mathematics have not yet taken full effect. Very occasionally staff do more than is necessary to support students’ learning. In a few lessons, the most-able students are not given hard enough work to fully challenge them. Students are not always given time to respond to the advice given in teachers’ marking to improve their work.