Essa Academy

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About Essa Academy

Name Essa Academy
Ofsted Inspections
Principal Mrs Jen Sidebottom
Address Lever Edge Lane, Bolton, BL3 3HH
Phone Number 01204333222
Phase Academy
Type Academy sponsor led
Age Range 11-16
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 1091
Local Authority Bolton
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Without exception, every pupil who spoke to an inspector said that they are proud to attend Essa Academy. Pupils described their school as a happy, harmonious and safe place to grow and learn. They value the high-quality support that they receive from a wide range of skilled staff.

Pupils were unanimous in their view that the school has improved considerably since the previous inspection.

Pupils said that bullying is rare. They described the effective support that they receive from staff should bullying ever occur.

Pupils celebrate diversity. Essa Academy is a community underpinned by a culture of tolerance and respect.

Around the school and in lesso...ns pupils behave sensibly.

They wear their uniform with pride. Pupils talked passionately about the 'Essa Experience', which incorporates a uniquely planned programme of enrichment activities. For example, pupils benefit from comprehensive leadership experiences, including the Duke of Edinburgh's Award and the Cadets.

Pupils have access to an extensive range of extra-curricular activities.

Teachers have high expectations of what pupils can and should achieve. They believe in the school's vision that all pupils must succeed.

Pupils said that they enjoy the subjects that they learn. Across the school, all pupils achieve well.

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

Leaders, including trustees and governors, have taken effective steps to improve the quality of education that pupils receive.

Leaders have created a strong, purposeful learning environment where pupils behave well and enjoy their lessons. In recognition of the positive changes that leaders have made, pupils' rates of attendance are now high and very few pupils are late for school. All pupils, including pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), make secure progress through the school's curriculum.

To create the right climate for learning, leaders have overhauled what is taught. While there is undoubtedly a broad and balanced curriculum in place, a few subject curriculum plans are not ambitious enough. This is because, with the best of intentions, leaders have incorporated additional enrichment activities into the main school curriculum at the expense of some academic subject content.

Currently, in a minority of subjects, some pupils do not gain the rich body of knowledge that they need for key stage 4 and beyond. Leaders recognise this issue. They have already taken steps to ensure that the curriculum is suitably ambitious for September 2022.

Leaders have committed to ensuring that the number of pupils following the English Baccalaureate suite of subjects at key stage 4 continues to rise.

Across the school, pupils benefit from teachers' solid subject knowledge. Teachers are passionate about ensuring that pupils apply themselves to their learning.

That said, some teachers do not always choose the most appropriate activities to deliver the knowledge that they want pupils to learn. This is especially the case in those subjects where the curriculum is still in development.

Teachers use a wide range of assessment strategies to check that pupils remember new knowledge and concepts.

They also use this information effectively to address any misconceptions that pupils may have in their learning. Pupils value, and act on, the feedback that they receive from their teachers.

There is a keen culture of reading in the school.

Those pupils that find reading difficult receive appropriate and timely support to catch up quickly. Across the school, teachers focus on developing pupils' subject-specific vocabulary and their reading skills. Typically, pupils said, 'We are always reading in lessons.'

Leaders are resoundingly successful in how they identify pupils with SEND. They pursue additional external support, including education, health and care plans, assiduously, when required. Staff are also skilled in adapting how they deliver the curriculum so that pupils with SEND, and those who speak English as an additional language, learn as well as their peers.

There is a well-planned personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education programme. Pupils enjoy this aspect of their learning. They develop a secure understanding of other faiths and cultures.

Pupils also benefit from an excellent careers education programme that is interwoven into every subject.

Trustees and governors provide an appropriate level of support and challenge to leaders. Staff are incredibly positive about how leaders protect their workload and well-being.

As a result, staff are happy and have the best interests of pupils at heart.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders are proactive and responsive to local needs when considering the school's safeguarding arrangements.

Pupils and their families benefit from a passionate, knowledgeable and effective pastoral support team. The school's PSHE curriculum is sensitively and carefully designed to educate pupils about staying healthy and safe. PSHE lessons help pupils to make informed choices, for example in relation to online safety and consent.

Leaders' approach to dealing with sexual abuse and harassment is noteworthy.

Leaders have a strong relationship with local and national safeguarding partners. When required, pupils receive timely multi-agency support, including early help and mental health counselling.

Leaders were particularly proactive in supporting pupils' well-being during the recent periods of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• Currently, a small number of curriculum plans lack sufficient ambition for pupils at key stage 3 because too much emphasis is placed on enrichment activities within the main curriculum. As a result, some pupils do not develop the deep body of academic knowledge that they should in these subjects.

Leaders should ensure that curriculum plans in these remaining subjects are suitably ambitious and that they identify the precise knowledge that pupils must know and remember. ? On occasions, some teachers do not choose the most appropriate activities to deliver the knowledge that they want pupils to learn. This is particularly the case in those subjects that are in the final stages of development.

Consequently, there are times when some pupils do not build their knowledge sufficiently well on earlier learning. Leaders should ensure that all teachers are suitably trained to deliver the revised curriculum, including in the remaining subjects that are under review.The transitional arrangements were used on this inspection to confirm that pupils benefit from a good quality of education.

Also at this postcode
Essa Primary School

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