Academy one step closer to being taken out of special measures

Marianne Gentilli
Marianne Gentilli

The Littlehampton Academy has taken its next big step towards being taken out of special measures.

The academy, in Fitzalan Road, was rated inadequate by Ofsted following an inspection in December 2013 and has been working its way up ever since.

We always said that this was going to be a long journey but we are making steady progress and are thrilled with many of the comments made and with our excellent sixth form provision.

Marianne Gentilli, principal, The Littlehampton Academy

Shortly before the highly critical report was published, the academy’s principal resigned and its advisory body was removed.

Now, under the leadership of its new principal, Marianne Gentilli, changes have been implemented and the improvements recognised by Ofsted.

Inspector Lisa Moore and her team carried out a fourth monitoring visit on July 8 and 9 and their findings were published on September 3.

In her report, Ms Moore said the achievements of the students had continued to “improve steadily” since the previous monitoring inspection in January.

She added: “In many cases, these improvements are from low starting points. Stronger improvement is more evident in Years 7 to 10 than Year 11 because these students had more ground to make up as result of weaker teaching in the past.”

Ms Moore said the students were achieving more in English than maths but noted how better leadership and teaching were showing a positive result in the latter.

Summing up her findings, she added: “The academy is making reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures.”

Ms Gentilli said she was very pleased with the progress made by the academy so far and added: “We continue to be highly self-critical and, of course, there is still much to do.

“We always said that this was going to be a long journey but we are making steady progress and are thrilled with many of the comments made and with our excellent sixth form provision.”

One important stop on that long journey saw staff and students celebrating a massive 8 per cent improvement in exam results in August. Some 44 per cent of students earned five GCSEs grade A*-C, including English and mathematics, compared to just 36 per cent the previous year.

When it came to behaviour, Ms Moore noted Ms Gentilli and her team had “drawn a line in the sand” and made it clear to students that expectations of them were higher than previously.

She said: “As a result, exclusions are above the national average. Rates of internal exclusions are also high.”

Of those exclusions, three-quarters involved disadvantaged students, a peer group which also had poor attendance rates.

Ms Moore said this was an issue “that the academy needs to address”.

Since the last monitoring inspection, seven teachers have left the academy and 14 posts are being filled by long-term supply teachers. Ms Moore praised the quality of teaching as “improving” and noted “an increasing proportion is good”, but she warned there was often “insufficient challenge” for more able students.

Each journey starts with a single step and, as she prepared to take the next one, Ms Gentilli said: “We have started our new academic year with a full staff – and with the knowledge that Ofsted believes we are on the right track to get The Littlehampton Academy out of special measures.”

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