The Sutton Academy

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About The Sutton Academy

Name The Sutton Academy
Ofsted Inspections
Principal Mr Paul Willerton
Address Elton Head Road, St Helens, WA9 5AU
Phone Number 01744678859
Phase Academy
Type Academy sponsor led
Age Range 11-18
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 1414
Local Authority St. Helens
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

At The Sutton Academy, pupils, and students in the sixth form, flourish.

They benefit from a well-thought-out, ambitious curriculum that gives them the rich knowledge that they need to embark on their futures. Leaders and teachers expect pupils to succeed. They achieve well.

The overwhelming majority of pupils are kind to each other. Pupils were adamant that this is a school where they are accepted for who they are. Differences between people are celebrated.

Discriminatory behaviour is rare within this close-knit, respectful community. As such, pupils feel safe and happy at school. They are free to be themselves.

Teachers respond swiftly to resolve a...ny occasional bullying.

Relationships between pupils and their teachers are strong. Pupils' behaviour in lessons and during social times reflects leaders' high expectations.

Each classroom is an oasis of calm where pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), learn with fervour.

The strong personal development curriculum affords pupils regular opportunities to discuss and debate issues that are relevant to their lives. Pupils grow in confidence.

They appreciate the extensive enrichment programme that is available to them daily. Pupils were effusive about the variety of clubs and activities on offer.

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

Leaders have transformed the quality of education that pupils, and students in the sixth form, receive.

Passionate about addressing disadvantage, leaders are unswerving in their commitment to ensure that all pupils and students study a sufficiently broad, knowledge-rich curriculum.

The curriculum from key stage 3 to key stage 5 is meticulously planned. Leaders have thought deeply about the knowledge that pupils and students need to learn in each subject and how this knowledge underpins the development of more difficult concepts.

Subject leaders have carefully mapped this knowledge so that all teachers are clear about what they need to teach and when it should be taught. This means that across the school, all pupils and students, irrespective of their background, ability or SEND, access the same ambitious curriculum.

Teachers are subject experts.

They deliver the curriculum consistently well, selecting appropriate activities to help pupils to apply their knowledge to more sophisticated ideas. Teachers are adept at developing pupils' general and subject-specific vocabulary. Pupils feel empowered.

They learn well. This is reflected in the high-quality work that they produce.

The strength in curriculum design has enabled subject leaders to refine their approaches to assessment so that teachers can ascertain how well pupils are learning the knowledge that they need.

Following a series of lessons, most teachers use assessment effectively to identify and address pupils' misconceptions. However, sometimes, pupils do not recall essential knowledge with the fluency that leaders intend. This is because occasionally, within lessons, some teachers do not check accurately enough that pupils' learning is secure before they move on.

Leaders identify pupils' additional needs with speed and accuracy. This means that teachers are furnished quickly with the information that they need to support pupils with SEND to succeed. Students in the sixth form with SEND follow aspirational courses.

Leaders have successfully prioritised reading across the school. They ensure that pupils access a range of diverse, high-quality texts. These texts develop pupils' interest in reading, while at the same time challenging cultural stereotypes and promoting equality.

Staff are well trained to teach pupils and students to read.

Leaders have comprehensive systems in place to support pupils who find reading difficult. However, while most pupils improve their reading ability, these systems do not identify the precise deficits that some pupils have in their phonics knowledge.

This means that a small number of pupils do not receive the most appropriate support in the first instance. They are not helped to catch up as quickly as they should be. This affects how well a few pupils access the wider curriculum.

Pupils' positive attitudes to learning mean that they can learn without disruption. Pupils, including students in the sixth form, attend school regularly.

Leaders' aspirations for pupils are reflected in the well-planned opportunities that they provide for pupils' personal development.

In particular, leaders strive to ensure that pupils learn how to be respectful, tolerant citizens in modern society. Pupils spoke enthusiastically about the Rainbow Club where they can express themselves openly. Support for pupils' mental well-being is strong.

Similarly, in the sixth form, students value the level of tailored support and guidance that they receive from staff about all aspects of their learning and development. Staff are fastidious in ensuring that students choose the most appropriate sixth-form courses. This is so that students gain the qualifications that they need for their next stage of education, employment or training.

Trustees have been instrumental in supporting leaders to improve the quality of education that pupils receive. Staff feel invested in. They value the time that leaders have dedicated to their professional development.

Staff appreciate leaders' consideration of their well-being. Staff morale is high.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders are tenacious in ensuring that a strong culture of safeguarding permeates the school. In addition to the comprehensive safeguarding training that they receive, staff know pupils and their families well. This enables staff to identify quickly when a pupil may be at risk of harm.

Staff are in tune with the risks that pupils may face in the local community. Leaders work closely with external agencies to ensure that pupils get the timely support that they need.

In the sixth form, systems for keeping students safe are equally effective.

Strong communication between staff means that leaders are knowledgeable about the potential dangers that vulnerable students in the sixth form may encounter.

Leaders place great emphasis on ensuring that the personal development curriculum teaches pupils how to keep themselves safe in a range of situations.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• In a small number of subjects, teachers do not check accurately enough that pupils' component knowledge is secure before moving on.

On occasion, some pupils do not recall knowledge as fluently as leaders intend. Leaders should ensure that all staff are trained equally well to use assessment strategies in lessons effectively to address pupils' misconceptions. ? Leaders' systems for identifying pupils who are behind with their reading do not enable them to pinpoint with accuracy the deficits in pupils' phonic knowledge.

Sometimes, a small number of pupils across the school do not receive the most appropriate support to help them to catch up quickly. This hinders some of these pupils from accessing the wider curriculum. Leaders should ensure that they identify the precise gaps in pupils' reading knowledge so that these pupils can be supported to catch up quickly.

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