Merlin Top judged an OUTSTANDING school

10th May 2019

Merlin Top judged an OUTSTANDING school

Northern Education Trust academy leaps from Requires Improvement to OUTSTANDING in a recent Ofsted inspection

Pupils and staff of Merlin Top Primary Academy, sponsored by Northern Education Trust, are celebrating the outcome of a recent Ofsted inspection as the academy has now been judged as 'outstanding' in all areas - a seismic jump from the result of its last inspection.

During the visit on 27 and 28 March 2019, inspectors praised the quality of leadership, saying "Leaders, supported by the trust, have established the school as a beacon of aspiration and achievement. They have a 'no excuses' attitude and approach. The principal's and deputy principal's unwavering determination and purpose, strengthened by trust leaders' support, has created a school climate which enables pupils to excel. Leaders focus relentlessly on pupils' outcomes … and teachers' expectations of what pupils should achieve are consistently high. Leaders and have put in place a curriculum which enables pupils to be challenged and to succeed in a range of subjects across all years. Particularly, the wide and varied extra curricular provision offers pupils a plethora of opportunities."

Inspectors also recognised the outstanding behaviour of pupils, saying: "the standard of behaviour in lessons was impeccable … pupils display a high level of self-discipline, because the relationships between staff and pupils are so strong. Additionally the rates of pupils' attendance has improved and is now in line with the national average, "as a consequence of leaders' dogged focus on attendance."

Early years provision was also graded 'outstanding'. The report recognised that children benefit from high-quality teaching, with the teaching of phonics and handwriting being very strong, and that the "children's behaviour and personal development is a strength of the early years provision". "From their starting points, children make strong progress across the early years learning goals, including literacy and mathematics."

The report acknowledged the substantial improvements in outcomes, noting that key stage 2 pupils' progress in reading and mathematics was well above the national average, and attainment in reading, writing and mathematics combined was above the national average at the end of key stage 2 in 2017/18. Equally, the progress of disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND was well above the national average in reading, writing and mathematics, as was the progress of the most able pupils in reading and mathematics. Attainment of key stage 1 pupils at the end of 2018 was also above the national average in reading, writing and mathematics.

Inspectors said: "Leaders have prioritised the importance of pupil's ability to read fluently and widely. There is a bedrock of support across the school for pupils to access and enjoy reading, which is helping them to make such strong progress across the curriculum by the time they finish key stage 2. Pupils are making sustained, substantial progress from their starting points in a range of subjects … as a result, pupils are extremely well prepared for commencing secondary school."

Lesley Heathcote, Principal, said: "I am delighted with the report, which recognises the commitment of the whole school community and the progress which has been made. The children and wider community of Braithwaite should be equally proud of their hard work, which has resulted in better than average results and a deeper understanding about aiming high for children from an early age. We know that our curriculum is a strength and that the children of Braithwaite benefit from a wide range of exciting and stimulating learning opportunities. I hope that that this report can go on to inspire the residents of Braithwaite to expect the very best and know that with hard work, respect and resilience everyone can have the highest possible aspirations for their children."

Jane Wilson, Deputy Chief Executive of Northern Education Trust, said "we are absolutely delighted with the 'outstanding' judgement, which rightly recognises the unswerving aim of leaders and staff to create resilient, enthusiastic learners who are active and engaged in their own learning. The Trust supports all its academies to achieve excellent outcomes for children, and the judgement is testimony to the efforts and commitment of all the children, staff and parents, which has resulted in pupils who are consistently inspired to want to learn, and of whom we are very proud."