Kempston Challenger Academy


Name Kempston Challenger Academy
Website http://www.kempstonchallengeracademy.org
Ofsted Inspection Rating Good
Inspection Date 12 September 2018
Address Hill Rise, Kempston, Bedford, Bedfordshire, MK42 7EB
Phone Number 01234290900
Type Academy
Age Range 9-18
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 647 (48% boys 52% girls)
Number of Pupils per Teacher 13.5
Academy Sponsor The Challenger Multi Academy Trust
Percentage Free School Meals 17.7%
Percentage English is Not First Language 32.9%

Information about this school

Kempston Challenger Academy is smaller than the average-sized secondary school. It became a sponsored academy in November 2015, when the Hastingsbury Business and Enterprise College was sponsored by the Challenger Multi-Academy Trust. In September 2016, the school amalgamated with Robert Bruce Middle School and provided education for pupils from nine to 18 years of age. In September 2018, the school became a secondary school catering for pupils aged 11 to 18 as part of a transition from a three-tier to two-tier model of primary and secondary education. The current executive headteacher was appointed in September 2016 and there were significant changes at senior and middle leadership level and in staffing during 2016/17. Staffing was more stable during the 2017/18 academic year. The board of trustees of the Challenger Multi-Academy Trust is responsible for the governance of the school but has delegated some responsibilities to a small local governing body (LGB). The LGB is responsible for holding the executive headteacher and senior leaders to account for the standards of education in the school, and for setting the vision for the school. The trust has provided support for senior and middle leaders, support for teaching, learning and assessment and support for science through a specialist leader of education. External consultants have provided support for teachers of English, mathematics and science and the LGB. The trust has also commissioned external reviews of the school and of safeguarding procedures. Just over half of the pupils are of White British heritage. The proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language is about twice the national average. The proportion of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds is above the national average. The proportion of pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities is lower than the national average. The proportion of pupils who have an education, health and care plan is above the national average. The school runs a specialist support unit, the Aspen Centre, for pupils who have social, emotional and mental health needs. The local authority manages admissions to the centre for pupils who meet its criteria for admissions. The centre currently has 14 pupils on roll from Year 7 to Year 10. There are currently no pupils attending alternative provision.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is a good school Leaders, trustees and governors have established a culture where there is a belief that everyone can succeed. Almost all pupils want to learn and do well. Leaders have relentlessly focused on improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, behaviour and achievement. They have significantly improved the quality of education and the curriculum provided. Pupils currently in the school, including those who have special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities and disadvantaged pupils, are making good progress in a range of subjects, including English and mathematics. The school provides well for pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities. The school’s specialist unit for pupils who have social, emotional and mental health needs provides effective support for pupils’ personal and academic development. The trust’s chief executive officer (CEO) and local governing body (LGB) provide an appropriate level of challenge and support to school leaders. The trust has made good use of external support to aid improvement. The small sixth form provides a range of academic and vocational courses that are well matched to students’ abilities and aspirations. Students are well prepared for the next stage of their education, training or employment. Leaders have an accurate view of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement. However, some leaders have not precisely checked how well their actions have brought about improvements. Consequently, opportunities to identify quickly what is most effective and to adapt improvement plans have been missed. Absence has been well above the national average but is reducing. The proportion of pupils with high rates of absence is reducing, but, despite the best efforts of leaders, remains too high for a small core of pupils, some of whom are disadvantaged pupils. Behaviour is improving and is good. However, a small number of pupils still disrupt the learning of others. As a result, the number of fixed-term exclusions is reducing too slowly. Teaching in science does not consistently provide pupils with appropriately challenging activities. Consequently, pupils make less consistent progress than in other subjects. There is still work to do to further support the development of reading for lower-attaining pupils and to develop all pupils’ literacy skills consistently across the curriculum.