|Ofsted Inspection Rating||Requires improvement|
|Address||Gatehouse Avenue, Withywood, Bristol, BS13 9AJ|
|Religious Character||Does Not Apply|
|Number of Pupils||1165 (46.4% boys 53.6% girls)|
|Number of Pupils per Teacher||15.3|
|Academy Sponsor||Venturers Trust|
|Local Authority||Bristol, City of|
|Percentage Free School Meals||46%|
|Percentage English is Not First Language||6.6%|
|Pupils with SEN Support||20.9%|
|Catchment Area Indicator Available||Yes|
|Last Distance Offered Available||No|
Highlights from Latest Full Inspection (26 February 2020)
There may have been more recent inspections such as monitoring visits or short inspections. For details of all inspections, please view this provider on our map here.
What is it like to attend this school?
Pupils are safe and well cared for at Merchants’ Academy. They enjoy a wide range of activities and experiences that enhance their learning in classrooms. For example, workshops led by the school’s sponsors develop pupils’ awareness and understanding of engineering. Pupils receive good-quality careers guidance and participate in work experience placements with well-respected employers. This is helping them to aim higher in possible future careers.
Teachers have increasingly high expectations of pupils. In the primary phase, pupils follow teachers’ instructions quickly. Pupils show respect for one another. As a result of the increased emphasis on religious education and personal, social and health education, pupils appreciate different faiths and cultures. This translates into their positive relationships.
The quality of education pupils receive is improving but it is still not good enough. The subjects and topics that pupils study have been reviewed. New plans are being developed to ensure that pupils learn a wider range of knowledge. However, teaching is not ensuring that pupils remember what they have been taught. In key stage 4 and the sixth form, pupils can now choose from a wider range of courses and qualifications. However, attendance remains low and pupils do not routinely catch up on the work they miss.
Around school and in class, pupils are generally calm. However, where the curriculum plans are not matched well to pupils’ needs, pupils ‘switch off’ quickly. Pupils move around the buildings in an orderly manner. Bullying is rare.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Leaders have made a real effort to improve both the range of subjects that pupils study and the content within those subjects. This content is now in place for most subjects but not all years. Some plans are not as well thought through as others. Within and across subjects, there is a lot of variability in how well the plans are implemented. Too often, pupils are covering the content in their classes, but the approaches teachers use are not ensuring that pupils remember what they have been taught.
School staff have worked hard to improve teachers’ understanding of the various special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) that many pupils have. Teachers are now aware of these pupils and have some general tips that they use with these pupils. However, teachers do not have enough information about pupils’ particular needs or guidance about how to support these needs in their subject. This is limiting the progress that pupils with SEND make.
Attendance and punctuality at school have improved year on year. However, they are still too low. Disadvantaged pupils’ attendance is improving but not as quickly as that of other pupils. Leaders are continuing to work with families to raise pupils’ attendance further. When pupils miss school, they do not routinely catch up on work they miss. As a result, they have gaps in their knowledge.
Leaders have worked hard to improve pupils’ behaviour and reduce exclusions. They have been successful in their efforts. Exclusions are now in line with the national average and the number of pupils who are removed from lessons continues to fall.
Since September 2019, leaders have made a determined drive to improve the teaching of early reading in the primary phase. Teaching staff have had training by experts and new plans are in place. Trustees have ensured that money was available to buy high-quality books. As a result, the teaching of reading in the early years and in key stage 1 is getting better but it is not yet ensuring that pupils have the knowledge they need to read fluently. Key stage 2, pupils still have significant gaps in their knowledge and they are not yet catching up quickly enough.
Leaders and school staff are wholly committed to improving life chances for pupils. Leaders make decisions with the best of intentions. However, although there is a lot of activity, it is not raising pupils’ outcomes as rapidly or efficiently as it could. Nonetheless, school and trust leaders, trustees and local governors are all clear about the school’s strengths and weaknesses and are continuing to improve all aspects of the school’s work. They are keen for the school to be the centre of the community. Events, such as the fireworks display and summer fair, have been well supported by the community.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
School staff are vigilant. This is the result of the training they have received. They work well with families. Leaders draw on a network of specialist agencies, including medical practitioners and housing associations. This ensures that pupils who are at risk are protected well and that families receive timely support.
As a result of the teaching they receive, pupils have a strong awareness of the risks they may face in the community and when online.
Leaders have made certain that systems are effective in ensuring that adults who work in the school are suitable to do so.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
Leaders have overhauled the curriculum from the Nursery to the sixth form. In most subjects, there is now a more cohesive approach that builds on pupils’ knowledge over time. However, it is not yet fully in place for all subjects. Furthermore, as teachers implement some of the plans, weaknesses are emerging. Leaders need to tackle these weaknesses quickly. They should ensure that cohesive plans across phases are in place for all subjects and in all years and that they are carefully thought through, so that pupils’ knowledge builds over time. . Pupils do not have a strong understanding of the concepts they explore and struggle to recall much of what they have learned. This is partly because, in some subjects, curriculum plans are not designed well enough and partly because teachers do not have strong enough subject-specific pedagogical knowledge to teach it effectively. Trust and school leaders should ensure that teachers and teaching assistants receive the training they need to develop their own practice further. . ‘Pupil passports’ are in place for pupils with SEND. These identify broad categories of need and generic strategies for teachers. However, they lack specificity about pupils’ particular needs and subject-specific strategies teachers may use. Leaders should continue to refine the information they provide to teachers so that teachers have what they need to best adapt their teaching approaches to meet pupils’ needs. . Leaders gather a lot of information about pupils. However, they are not sufficiently analytical in the information they gather. Consequently, actions are not planned strategically in order to address specific issues. Trustees and local governors should ensure that leaders are more strategic in analysing and using this information to develop effective plans to improve outcomes for pupils.