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Flagship academy gets poor OFSTED report

20 December 2013


FIFTEEN months after moving into a £25-million pound campus, the flagship University Church of England Academy, Ellesmere Port, has been deemed inadequate by inspectors from OFSTED. The report blames weak teaching and poor classroom behaviour for lower-than-expected attainment by the 947 pupils.

The report also criticises the governing body, which is chaired by the Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, for failing rigorously to monitor standards.

OFSTED has now named a successful RC school, St John Plessington College, as the University Academy's improvement partner, and the college head, Tom Quinn, as the academy's executive principal.

Mr Quinn, a national school leader, will work closely with Kevin McDermott, the academy's principal since 2009, to put in place the inspectors' recommendations, parents were told in a joint letter.

The University C of E Academy, which replaced two local-authority schools, opened in 2009. A high proportion of pupils qualify for the pupil premium given to schools in exceptionally challenging areas.

Originally, the academy was sponsored jointly by Chester University, the diocese of Chester, and West Cheshire and Chester Council. But, after the move to a purpose-built campus last year, the university became the sole sponsor.

The diocesan director of education, Jeff Turnbull, who is on the board of governors, said: "The academy is in a challenging area, but this is all the more reason why our children deserve the best possible education."

Mr McDermott said in a statement on Monday: "A number of positive aspects of the academy's provision were identified by OFSTED, but the rate of progress . . . needs to improve further.

"OFSTED was incredibly positive about the students at the academy, and it also recognised that we were aware of, and had begun addressing, all of the areas for improvement which were identified. With the support of Mr Quinn, Executive Principal, I am confident that we will now accelerate the progress that we have made."

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