Dene Academy

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About Dene Academy

Name Dene Academy
Ofsted Inspections
Head Teacher Mr David Nelson
Address Manor Way, Peterlee, SR8 5RL
Phone Number 01915546000
Phase Academy
Type Academy converter
Age Range 11-16
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 621
Local Authority County Durham
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Dene Academy is a caring and nurturing school. Staff know pupils very well and they have high aspirations for what they can achieve. In lessons, pupils are keen to meet these expectations.

Pupils receive high-quality pastoral care and they enjoy warm relationships with staff. This helps to create a positive culture in the school.

Dene Academy is an inclusive school where pupils are safe.

The school provides a warm welcome for pupils, especially those seeking safety and support. The school's positive work in this area is reflected in its recent award of 'School of Sanctuary' status. Pupils respect the differences in other people.

Pupils behave well. T...hey are polite and courteous. Bullying sometimes happens.

A small number of pupils say that the school does not always act as quickly as it could when bullying occurs.

Pupils are offered a wide range of opportunities to develop their interests. For example, pupils enjoy attending a range of lunchtime and after-school activities, such as karate, chess and music.

Many pupils are also taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme and the Diana Award. These experiences enable pupils to develop their leadership and mentoring skills so they can help others in their community. Pupils develop a sense of responsibility by taking on leadership roles as head students, ambassadors and prefects.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

All pupils, including pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), follow an ambitious curriculum at Dene Academy. In most subjects, subject leaders have thought carefully about the important knowledge that they want pupils to know and remember. They have mapped out their curriculum in a well-ordered way.

This helps pupils to build their knowledge and skills over time. In some subjects, such as geography, the school has not mapped out the essential knowledge that pupils need to learn as well as it does in others. Where this is the case, pupils have less secure subject knowledge.

This is preventing pupils from making the progression through the curriculum of which they are capable.

Pupils benefit from their teachers' subject knowledge. Pupils receive clear instructions and explanations that help them to learn well.

In many subjects, such as English and mathematics, teachers model what successful responses look like. The school has developed a variety of approaches to assessment. Pupils are invited to recall what they have previously learned.

Misconceptions are often promptly identified in lessons. However, this is not consistently the case. In some subjects, the school is not checking deeply enough that pupils have learned and remembered the important knowledge that they need.

The good quality of education that pupils experience is not reflected in the outcomes achieved by Year 11 pupils in 2023. Many pupils were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a number experiencing high levels of absence. In addition, many pupils joined the school midway through their studies and did not benefit from the rounded curriculum journey many pupils are now experiencing.

The school accurately identifies any additional needs that pupils have. This ensures that pupils with SEND receive the support that they need. Leaders ensure that teachers understand the ways to support pupils with SEND.

As a result, pupils with SEND learn well alongside their peers.

The school has prioritised reading. Leaders have implemented an effective programme of support for those pupils at the early stages of reading.

Strategies to support pupils with their reading are well embedded into the curriculum across a range of subjects.

Pupils behave well in lessons and most pupils conduct themselves sensibly at social times. Pupils typically treat each other with respect.

Leaders track attendance very carefully. They have implemented a number of strategies to support pupils who do not attend often enough. This work is having a positive impact.

The personal, social and health education programme is very well planned. Pupils learn a range of topics in an age-appropriate way. For example, pupils learn about how to keep themselves healthy and they learn about how to be safe online.

Pupils benefit from a well-considered careers programme. Pupils receive impartial careers advice and a number of training and education providers meet with pupils across all year groups. This helps pupils to have high aspirations and it helps them to make informed decisions about their future.

Trustees understand the school very well. They have a broad skill set that means they can challenge and support school leaders effectively. Staff value the development opportunities they are given and they are overwhelmingly positive about working at the school.

There are a number of leaders who are relatively new to their posts. There are plans to support new leaders so that they have the professional skills to continue to improve the school's work. The trust has a clear role in these plans.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• The school's use of assessment is less successful in some subjects than it is in others. This means pupils do not remember knowledge consistently well across all areas of the curriculum.

The school should further embed the use of assessment, and associated strategies, to help pupils to remember important knowledge. In a minority of subjects, leaders have not identified the most important knowledge that pupils should learn. This means pupils do not have a secure and deep knowledge of the curriculum.

The school must ensure that the most important knowledge that pupils need to learn is mapped out consistently well across all subjects. ? Recently, there have been a number of changes in leadership at different levels. The school should ensure that all leaders continue to receive support and professional development, so that they can monitor and evaluate the school's work accurately and take effective action so the school continues to improve.

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