Friars Academy

Name Friars Academy
Ofsted Inspection Rating Outstanding
Inspection Date 04 June 2015
Address Friars Close, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, NN8 2LA
Phone Number 01933304950
Type Academy (special)
Age Range 11-18
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils Unknown
Academy Sponsor Friars Multi Academy Trust
Local Authority Northamptonshire
Percentage Free School Meals 37.1%
Percentage English is Not First Language 2%
Persisitent Absence 19.6%
Pupils with SEN Support 0%
Catchment Area Information Available No
Last Distance Offered Information Available No

Information about this school

Friars converted to an academy on 1 November 2013. When its predecessor school, Friars School, was last inspected by Ofsted, it was judged to be good. All the students have a statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan for either moderate learning difficulties or severe learning difficulties. Increasingly, the academy is admitting students with more complex needs and over half have autistic spectrum disorders. The majority of students are of White British heritage and very few speak English as an additional language. The proportion of disadvantaged students eligible for pupil premium funding is well above average. This funding is for students in the care of the local authority and those known to be eligible for free school meals. Most students at Key Stage 4 attend alternative providers for part of their education. They spend some of their time at either Northampton College of Further Education, Moulton College or Tresham College. The sixth form provides for a small number of students who are not ready to move on at the end of Year 11 because of the severity of their learning difficulties. The academy is part of a sixth form consortium with a group of other Northamptonshire special schools: Billing Brook Special Academy, Greenfields Specialist School for Communication, Northgate School Arts College and Wren Spinney Community Special School. Friars offers sport and leisure and life skills courses; students access a range of other courses and experiences at the other schools. The academy was awarded Specialist Sports College status by the Department for Education and it is also the lead school for Northamptonshire in a Youth Sport Trust initiative called Project Ability.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is an outstanding school. The headteacher, senior leaders and managers provide excellent direction for the academy. They have high expectations and do all that they can to provide the best possible learning opportunities for the students. Senior leaders have been successful in improving the quality of teaching and raising achievement since Friars became an academy. They have been well supported in this by the governing body. Students achieve exceptionally well. Progress in literacy, numeracy and communication is at least good, and for most students it is outstanding. The quality of teaching is outstanding and this enables students to make rapid progress in their learning. Teachers have high expectations and create a very positive atmosphere for learning in their classrooms. Students at Key Stage 4 gain a wide range of qualifications and the academy makes sure that they are very well prepared for further education, training or the world of work. Provision in the sixth form is outstanding and learning opportunities are matched very closely to the needs of individual students. The academy provides students with a wealth of opportunities in physical education and meets with a high level of success in competitive sport. It takes a lead role locally in promoting sporting achievement and has gained prestigious awards for the contribution it makes. Students’ behaviour is outstanding and they have excellent attitudes to learning. Students are extremely polite and helpful, and enjoy high quality relationships with the staff and with one another. Students say that they feel very safe in the academy. This is because there are rigorous procedures in place to make sure that they are kept secure and made aware of how to keep themselves safe. The academy provides all its students with high quality guidance and support. This prepares them very well for the future and helps them to work towards their chosen goals. The academy has very productive links with other educational establishments, including with other schools in the sixth form consortium. It works closely with a range of businesses and other agencies to extend students’ learning experiences. Most parents are very satisfied with the academy’s work and partnership with parents is good. The academy is working, rightly, to involve parents even more closely in its work. While teachers usually plan their lessons in great detail, just occasionally they do not match activities and equipment as closely as they could to the needs of less-able students in science.