The Vale Academy

Name The Vale Academy
Ofsted Inspection Rating Good
Address Wilbury Drive, Dunstable, LU5 4QP
Phone Number 01582211150
Type Academy
Age Range 2-11
Religious Character Does Not Apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 512 (50.8% boys 49.2% girls)
Number of Pupils per Teacher 20.8
Academy Sponsor The Shared Learning Trust
Local Authority Central Bedfordshire
Percentage Free School Meals 8.6%
Percentage English is Not First Language 25.6%
Persistent Absence 9.7%
Pupils with SEN Support 12.1%
Catchment Area Indicator Available Yes
Last Distance Offered Available No
Highlights from Latest Full Inspection (17 September 2014)
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Information about this school

Barnfield Vale Academy is part of the Barnfield Federation. It is supported in its work by The Barnfield Teaching School Partnership. Governance is through the Barnfield Academy Trust, who appointed an academy advisory board for Barnfield Vale Academy. This middle deemed primary school is larger than the average-sized primary school. It is in the process of changing from a middle school to a primary school. The school became an academy in March 2011. At the time it was a middle deemed secondary school for pupils from Year 5 to Year 8. In September 2013, it admitted children for the first time into Reception classes, as well as pupils into Year 1 to Year 4. Numbers on roll in Years 7 and 8 are reducing as the academy changes from a middle to a primary school over the next few years. There were 12 classes when it was a middle school, and there will be 14 when the change over to a primary school is completed. Due to the changes in age range, a high proportion of pupils joined the school during the last academic year other than at the usual time in the Reception Year and Years 1 to 4. The large majority of pupils are White British. The proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language is very low. The proportion of disadvantaged pupils known to be eligible for the pupil premium is lower than average. The proportion of disabled pupils and those with special educational needs is average. The school meets the government’s current floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for students’ attainment and progress in English and mathematics. There is a ‘pre-school’ on the school site which is not managed by the governing body and so was not part of this inspection. An interim Principal was appointed from September 2014. It is intended that a permanent appointment will be made for January 2015.

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is a good school. The strong leadership of the academy trust has established a community of dedicated and enthusiastic staff who work closely together to improve standards. The new interim Principal and leadership team have implemented rigorous and effective systems for checking and developing the work of the academy. The system for checking the work of teachers ensures new staff are well supported. Pupils’ behaviour and the academy’s work to keep pupils safe are outstanding. Pupils are eager to learn and exemplary in their attitudes to their work. Pupils report how safe they feel at the academy. Pupils new to the school receive effective support to settle quickly and make good progress. The broad and interesting curriculum contributes strongly to pupils’ achievement and to their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Teachers make lessons interesting for the pupils. Children in the Reception classes make good progress, often from low starting points, due to good teaching. Pupils make good progress and by the end of Year 8 reach standards that are higher than those expected for their age. The high-quality marking and advice given to pupils enables them to know how well they have done and how they can improve their work. Parents hold highly positive views about the school and report how keen their children are to attend each day. It is not yet an outstanding school because : Although pupils make good progress in mathematics those in Year 6, last year, did not make as much progress in mathematics as they did in English. Occasionally, teachers take insufficient account of what pupils already know and can do and so set work that is too easy. Until recently, subject leadership was weaker in mathematics than in other subjects.