Orion Academy


Name Orion Academy
Ofsted Inspection Rating Inadequate
Inspection Date 14 November 2018
Address Knights Road, Blackbird Leys, Northfield School, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX4 6DQ
Phone Number 01865771703
Type Academy (special)
Age Range 10-18
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Boys
Number of Pupils 50 (100% boys)
Academy Sponsor The Gallery Trust
Local Authority Oxfordshire
Percentage Free School Meals 36.0%
Percentage English is Not First Language 0%
Persisitent Absence 74.7%
Pupils with SEN Support 0%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available Yes

Information about this school

In April 2018, the governing body was issued with a warning notice on behalf of the local authority. Following this, the full governing body resigned and left the school. In August 2018, the local authority established an interim executive board. Between May and October 2018, the school buildings were closed as the local authority condemned them as unfit for teaching and learning. During this time, pupils only received a part-time education, being educated either off-site at Hill End Residential Centre or in portacabins on site. Some staff left. In July 2018, the local authority began a consultation to close the school. This has since been retracted. Instead, the local authority intends to build a new school on this site, which it plans to open in 2021. However, plans are at an early stage and are not fully agreed. Since the previous inspection, there have been significant changes to the school’s leadership, teaching and governance arrangements. The previous headteacher, who joined in September 2017, resigned following a period of absence, and left in July 2018. The school’s deputy headteacher took up the post of acting headteacher in September 2018, having previously acted as headteacher in the academic year 2016/17. This is a temporary arrangement. Unofficially, the assistant headteacher stepped up to the role of acting deputy headteacher in October 2018. The acting leadership team is supported for five half days per week by an NLE, brokered by the local authority. Northfield School provides for pupils who have social, emotional and mental health difficulties. Some pupils have other learning difficulties, and some have autism spectrum disorder conditions. Since the previous inspection, the school has added an additional key stage, key stage 5. There are currently no pupils in key stage 2 or key stage 5. The local authority took the decision not to admit new pupils into Year 6 or Year 7 this academic year. All pupils have an EHC plan. The proportion of pupils who are supported by the pupil premium is well above that seen nationally. In 2017/18 the school exceeded its planned admission number. This is because : additional places were commissioned but the Department for Education was not informed. There is also some confusion as to whether the school is co-educational. Currently, 51 boys attend and no girls. Some pupils attend alternative provision used by the school. These include Abingdon and Witney College, Oxford City College, Meadowbrook College, Oxfordshire Football Development Scheme, South Oxfordshire Food and Education Academy and Trax. The school does not meet requirements on the publication of information because : some of the necessary information about the school’s spending of pupil premium and sports funding, governance information, the SEND report and equalities objectives are missing from its website.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is an inadequate school Some pupils are not receiving an education. For others, reduced timetables and off-site providers are used inappropriately, as staff cannot manage some pupils’ behaviour. Pupils’ attendance is worryingly poor and has been for some time. Responsible stakeholders have done too little to tackle this. There is no sustainable leadership structure in place. The quality of governance in recent times has been concerning. Now, the school is wholly dependent on the expertise of outside support. The local authority’s response has been insufficient to bring about positive change. Officers have not fully understood the risks attached to some pupils’ circumstances. The school is in financial deficit. In the past, funds have not been sufficiently accounted for. There are no plans in place this year for the spending of additional funds, such as pupil premium. Safeguarding is ineffective. The reporting and recording of concerns about pupils are unreliable and scant. Some staff, including designated leads, have received insufficient training. Exclusions are too high. Unofficial exclusion is used inappropriately. Governors and others with responsibility have not exercised their lawful duty to exclude pupils when appropriate. Pupils make inadequate progress from their starting points. The school’s curriculum and educational offer does not meet the objectives in pupils’ education, health and care (EHC) plans well enough. Staff have had insufficient training and performance management. As a result, many staff are not sufficiently skilled to meet the needs of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Not all pupils have an equal chance to succeed, as the curriculum is not fit for purpose. Inclusion and equality are not promoted strongly enough. The school has the following strengths New senior leaders, with support from the local authority, have stoically taken charge at a time when the school is in crisis. The acting leadership team and new governors are providing some consistency for parents, carers and staff. Pupils benefit from the expertise of some adults in some subjects. In art, music and physical education (PE), pupils participate and engage in learning activities. Some support is contributing exceptionally well to providing wise counsel to new leaders.