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Unity City Academy is a welcoming and inclusive school.
Leaders have a lot of ambition for the pupils and they understand the local community well. Pupils enjoy coming to school and they take advantage of the lessons and opportunities available to them. This high aspiration is reflected in the broad curriculum and the positive environment in school.
Pupils appreciate the range of extra-curricular activities that are available to widen their experience and develop their leadership skills. These popular activities include the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and the Combined Cadet Force.
Behaviour in school and lessons is good.
The calm atmosphere in l...essons allows pupils to get on with their work. Pupils describe a culture of tolerance and respect. Inspectors agree; they saw this during the inspection.
Relationships between pupils and staff are warm and friendly. Pupils feel safe and they know staff will help them if they face any difficulties. The pupils spoken to during the inspection told us that any bullying is dealt with effectively.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Pupils are studying a wide range of subjects at both key stage 3 and key stage 4. All pupils are able to enter the English Baccalaureate group of subjects (science, history, geography and languages). Leaders are ensuring the number of pupils taking these subjects is increasing.
Pupils are encouraged to think about the wider skills they are developing in lessons, such as problem-solving, linking ideas together and empathising with others.
While the overall curriculum is ambitious and broad, in some subjects, some components need teaching in greater depth to help pupils to embed their knowledge and skills.
Teachers have good subject knowledge and they explain things to pupils very clearly.
In lessons, teachers check pupils have understood what they are learning. However, at key stage 3, some of the more formal assessments are not focused enough on the precise knowledge pupils need to remember. Leaders know this and are reviewing their approach to assessment.
Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are identified and supported effectively. Most pupils with SEND are fully involved in the mainstream curriculum. Some pupils spend some of the time in a specially resourced provision for pupils with SEND (specially resourced provision).
The curriculum for these pupils is carefully planned to meet their needs. It matches the ambition of the curriculum for all pupils. As a result of this, pupils with SEND are developing their knowledge and skills effectively.
There is a clear reading strategy in the school. Pupils receive at least one reading lesson per week, more if they need extra support with reading. All subjects promote reading and developing vocabulary.
Some pupils in Year 10 are trained to help younger pupils with reading. This is having an impact, and this progress in reading is helping pupils to learn more in their other subjects.
The school places a lot of emphasis on teaching personal development.
Leaders have thought carefully about the range of topics taught in personal development lessons. This ensures that pupils understand how to stay safe, and to be prepared for life after school. Pupils told us they really value the ethics and tutor lessons.
They gave examples of useful topics they learn in these lessons, such as healthy relationships and how to manage a budget. This is contributing effectively to the social, moral and cultural education of pupils.
Pupils receive independent careers advice.
Teachers encourage pupils to think about what they could achieve when they leave school. Career options and university choices are routinely discussed in tutor time. This means the school meets the demands of the Baker Clause.
The careers programme is effective because pupils told us how it gives them a sense of direction. Hardly any pupils leave school without a definite destination.
Trust leaders have the skills and knowledge to challenge and support school leaders.
They have focused on specific areas to help Unity City Academy improve. The trust board ensures that resources have the most impact on pupils. For example, the recent investment to support pupils' reading.
Staff are extremely positive about working at the school. They are proud to work there and feel supported to develop their skills and manage their workload.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders have strong systems in place to quickly identify any safeguarding concerns. There are weekly meetings to monitor and put in place support for any pupil who is facing personal difficulties. The school works effectively with a variety of agencies which helps to safeguard and support pupils.
There is an effective culture of safeguarding in the school. This is because staff are trained to a high standard. Staff have a good understanding of the specific safeguarding issues which are most relevant to the local area.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
• The overall curriculum is broad and balanced. However, in some subjects, some components need teaching in greater depth. Leaders should make sure that pupils spend more time embedding and deepening their knowledge of the curriculum.
• Teachers regularly check what pupils know and understand. However, some assessment at key stage 3 is too focused on the skills and concepts needed at key stage 4. Leaders must ensure that assessment at key stage 3 helps teachers to inform their teaching.