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Appleton Academy is an inclusive and friendly school. It caters for primary and secondary-age pupils.
Overall, pupils are happy at the school; they say that they feel safe. They told inspectors that if bullying happens, it is quickly dealt with by adults. Pupils say that the school has improved, including behaviour.
Many parents and staff agree. As one parent, typical of many, commented, 'My child enjoys coming to school and he feels well supported by staff.'
Leaders have high expectations of pupils.
These expectations are evident as you walk around the school. The school is calm and purposeful. Leaders have improved the curriculum in many subjects....
Pupils enjoy learning here. As a result, pupils are achieving well in a wide range of subjects.
Staff go the extra mile to support pupils' personal development.
Pupils' physical and mental health are well supported by staff. Pupils value the extensive opportunities that the school offers. For example, there are lots of visits and after-school activities, including sports, music and chess clubs.
These are very popular. Pupils willingly take on leadership roles in school. Members of the school council spoke proudly about helping to design the playground.
Pupils feel listened to and they are proud of their school.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
The trust, governors and senior leaders have a clear vision for the school. They have improved many aspects of the school including the quality of education that pupils receive.
Senior leaders have revised the school's curriculum so that it is ambitious for all pupils including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Leaders have ensured that the primary-phase curriculum is broad. In the secondary phase, leaders have introduced a more ambitious curriculum.
Between Year 7 and Year 9, pupils study a wide range of subjects. This provides a solid foundation when pupils begin their GCSE subjects in Year 10.
Subject leaders organise lessons in sequence so that pupils build on their knowledge and skills from Nursery through to Year 11.
In most subjects, including English, mathematics and science, curriculum leaders have identified precisely what they want pupils to learn and when. In these subjects, pupils know and remember more. In a few subjects, such as modern foreign languages (MFL) and music, plans are less well developed.
Leaders have plans in place to address this.
Teachers encourage pupils to use academic vocabulary. For example, in English lessons that inspectors visited, pupils in Year 11 correctly used words such as 'Machiavellian' and 'transgressor'.
The focus on vocabulary supports pupils' learning in other subjects. Pupils confidently use subject-specific vocabulary in different subjects.Leaders encourage pupils to read often.
They have successfully developed pupils' love of reading. Pupils spoke enthusiastically about the various authors and poets that come into school. Pupils enjoy reading books in one of the inviting reading areas, including the attractive well-stocked library.
Phonics is taught well. Staff who teach phonics are well trained. Children who fall behind in their reading receive extra support.
This helps them to catch up quickly.
In the early years, children are happy and well cared for. Staff know and engage well with children.
Staff help parents to support their children's learning. Staff are highly skilled and knowledgeable about how young children learn. Teachers provide children with many stimulating activities.
During this visit, children were happily singing songs to help them learn how to count. Children are interested and love learning here.
The school is very inclusive.
The new resource base provision for pupils with communication difficulties and autism is well led. Pupils with SEND access the same curriculum as their peers. Staff are effective in meeting pupils' needs.'
The Hub' provides a range of effective individual support and interventions. This helps pupils achieve well.
Leaders do much to support pupils' personal development.
They have put in place an 'enrichment' curriculum to broaden pupils' horizons. For example, a large number of pupils complete the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Pupils value the wide range of experiences they have in lessons and beyond.
Teachers plan many exciting trips and visits to complement the curriculum. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some activities have been paused. Many have restarted.
For example, there is an oversees visit planned to Berlin that is linked to the history curriculum and a Year 6 residential visit to Nell Bank.
Governors know the school well and visit often. They are well informed.
Governors understand the strengths of the school and what needs to improve. They effectively hold school leaders to account for the quality of education at school. The trust has provided important support.
Leaders, including governors, actively listen to the views of staff. They act to improve their well-being and reduce workload. Staff are typically happy and proud to work at this school.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders and governors make sure that safeguarding is a high priority. The leadership of safeguarding is rigorous and responsive to the needs of pupils.
There are many pupils who are vulnerable and in need of help and protection. Staff receive regular training on safeguarding. They are fully aware of their responsibilities and take them seriously.
Leaders and staff are vigilant. Safeguarding concerns are dealt with thoroughly.
There is a strong pastoral team, including a social worker who provides effective support for pupils.
The pastoral team is tenacious in its work to get the right support for vulnerable pupils and families. As a result, there is strong culture of safeguarding.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• Curriculum plans are less well-developed in some subjects, such as MFL and music.
As a result, pupils do not develop the skills and knowledge that they need in these subjects. Senior leaders should ensure that they carry out their already established plans to develop these subjects, to ensure that curriculum plans are consistently strong and effectively implemented in all subjects. This is so that pupils, over time, know and remember more in these subjects.
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