Huge improvements mean better rating for Calderdale secondary school once rated inadequate

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Vast improvements at a Calderdale high school once put in special measures have led to a boost to its Ofsted rating.

Lightcliffe Academy is no longer 'Inadequate', say the education watchdog who have now given the school a higher rating of 'Requires Improvement'.

There is still more to be done, said the inspectors, but pupils’ experiences have improved and leaders have a handle on what needs to be done to continue the school's positive progress.

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"Leaders are determined to make the school a happy place for all pupils," said the report.

Students celebrating at Lightcliffe AcademyStudents celebrating at Lightcliffe Academy
Students celebrating at Lightcliffe Academy

"They want every pupil to feel part of the wider school community. Most pupils enjoy coming to school. They value their lessons and the opportunities to get involved in activities out of lessons."

The report also said that pupils' behaviour had got better since the previous inspection and incidents of bullying have declined rapidly. If there are incidents, most pupils are confident that when they tell staff, it is addressed.

Safeguarding is effective and leaders have improved communication with parents.

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Inspectors noted a new structure to lessons has been introduced but said the quality of education remains inconsistent, with some lessons not planned as effectively as they could be,

Lightcliffe Academy has received  a boosted Ofsted ratingLightcliffe Academy has received  a boosted Ofsted rating
Lightcliffe Academy has received a boosted Ofsted rating

They also said although pupil behaviour has improved, it is often dependent on staff supervision. Some pupils do not behave consistently well and some use derogatory and/or discriminatory language in the school.

There were also concerns raised about some pupils', particularly disadvantaged students', absence. "Leaders must intensify their efforts to improve attendance, ensuring

fewer pupils are persistently absent from school," said the report.

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But it also said: "Leaders, supported by those responsible for governance and from the multi-academy trust, have a grasp on the school’s improvement priorities.

Head of School at Lightcliffe Academy Roz Wood-Ives.Head of School at Lightcliffe Academy Roz Wood-Ives.
Head of School at Lightcliffe Academy Roz Wood-Ives.

"They are aware of what still needs to improve. Following a period of turbulence, leaders are providing much-needed stability. Governors have a more active role in school improvement.

"Staff say they are better supported by leaders than was previously the case.

"Most staff are proud to work here. They are keen for pupils’ behaviour to continue to improve."

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Lightcliffe Academy Head of School Roz Wood-Ives said special measures have been removed earlier than due because of the improvements made, despite a challenging time in education with schools stretched because of the pandemic.

"We have dedicated and committed staff who have worked tirelessly as a team to drive improvement, and understand the critically of continued pace and momentum," she said.

"We have fantastic students who continue to make us proud through everything they achieve, both in and out of the classroom.

"We are fortunate to be well-supported by Abbey MAT colleagues and have experienced governors who have an 'active role in school improvement'.

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"We are now entering the next phase of our improvement journey. We are building for the future on the solid foundations we have laid for success.

"There will continue to be a significant investment in improving the school building.

"We look forward to launching our strategic plan for the next three years."