Oxford Academy is celebrating after achieving a ‘good’ Ofsted rating and ranking 14th out of 6,382 schools in the country in the new government progress 8 scores for exam results.
The Progress 8 scores are based on students’ progress in eight subjects from the end of key stage 2 (primary school) until the end of key stage 4 (secondary school) including English, Maths, three science subjects such as science, computer science, history, geography and languages, and three other approved qualifications.
Oxford Academy achieved a score of 0.82, well above average with 51% of students achieving a C or above in English or Maths and 93% staying in education or entering employment.
It is a brilliant result for the school which was placed in special measures by Ofsted in 2012 after 26% of pupils gained A-C grades at GCSE under the old performance measures, below the government average of 40 %. This made it the worst performing school in the county, and 25th worse performing in the country at that time.
“The results are due to a great leadership team.” said Hannah Jamieson, Community Strategy Development Officer with the school.
“Our Head teacher Niall McWilliams has put an excellent support mechanism in place. Ofsted’s rating was ‘good’, but our leadership and management was ‘outstanding’.
“The progress 8 scores are a better way of assessing students progress throughout their time at school. Students are set a target at the end of primary school and when they exceed that target the school benefits. On average our students have shown improvement during their time at Oxford Academy.”
Hannah added: “The school has improved a lot since the new head teacher has been here ” said Emily King, 14, a student at the school. “There is more interaction between the students and teachers, the teachers are more strict and the teaching and student behaviour have both improved due to that. If a student is unsure of something in class the teachers know what to do so students don’t feel stupid if they need to ask something.”
Fellow pupil Natalie Peacock, 14, agreed: “The current head manages things differently. The teaching has improved and different methods are used in class. For example in a Maths class we may work on our laptops sometimes, use worksheets, or work in groups as well as individually.”
“The teaching methods are more varied and engaging” said Hannah: “We are more engaged with parents too, who feel more involved with the school due to things like award ceremonies, end of year celebrations and apps that they can use on smartphones and tablets allowing them to check their children’s homework. We are much more involved with the community.”
The local community responded warmly to the news of the school’s success with local councillors such as Littlemore Councillor Gill Sanders saying: “This is brilliant but not unexpected news. I realised from the moment that Niall McWilliams was appointed a few years ago that things were going to improve. The school now has a really strong leadership team and some really excellent teachers who are all working together to raise standards in the school and to inspire all the students of all abilities. The students are a real credit to the school and this is a reflection of the teaching and leadership.”
“I know that the school will continue to improve and that the students will continue to achieve even greater results. Well done to the Head, the teaching team and all of the students. We are all very proud of you.”
Blackbird Leys Councillor Linda Smith added: “I’d like to congratulate the staff and pupils at The Oxford Academy on the fantastic achievement of their phenomenal Progress 8 score and their ‘Good’ OFSTED rating. These external measures of how well the school is doing reflect the changes that have taken place recently. The Oxford Academy is now a good school at the heart of the local community which offers an exciting range of courses and qualifications for its young people.”
Littlemore Councillor John Tanner added: “This is a wonderful achievement for Oxford Academy staff and students. It is a real boost for the local community and I’m sure will lead on to even better things for the pupils and for Littlemore. The whole community must now get behind the school to turn ‘good’ into ‘outstanding’. It shows that hard work, focus and determination can make a real difference.”
Photography by Katarina Clennett