|Name||Vale of York Academy|
|Ofsted Inspection Rating||Good|
|Inspection Date||13 November 2019|
|Address||Rawcliffe Drive, Clifton Without, York, North Yorkshire, YO30 6ZS|
|Religious Character||Does not apply|
|Number of Pupils||561 (48% boys 52% girls)|
|Number of Pupils per Teacher||17.2|
|Academy Sponsor||Hope Learning Trust, York|
|Percentage Free School Meals||15.7%|
|Percentage English is Not First Language||8.6%|
|Pupils with SEN Support||11.1%|
|Catchment Area Information Available||Yes, our catchment area data is FREE|
|Last Distance Offered Information Available||No|
What is it like to attend this school?
Vale of York Academy is a welcoming and friendly school in the heart of the city of York. Pupils enjoy coming to school and learn a lot. Staff, parents and carers are very positive about the way the school has been transformed over the last two years. Pupils and parents also told us that the school ‘listens’ and teachers care. Pupils feel safe. Leaders and staff have high expectations of all pupils and want them to achieve well.
The school’s motto is ‘Always giving the best’. Strong, positive relationships exist between teachers and pupils. They say, ‘The school has a community feel to it’, and ‘Teachers make learning fun.’ Pupils have access to a wide range of trips, visits and extra-curricular activities, especially in sports.
In lessons, pupils get on with their work and work well together. Around the school site, pupils are polite and respectful to each other, staff and visitors. Pupils wear their smart uniform with pride. Staff do not tolerate bullying. When it happens, pupils are confident that teachers will deal with it quickly. The atmosphere around the school is calm and purposeful.
What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?
Over the last two years, the school has improved significantly. School leaders, with the support from the trust, have improved every area of the school. Most teachers have high expectations of pupils, both in standards and behaviour. Leaders take every opportunity to raise pupils’ aspirations, for example by celebrating the many successes of previous pupils at the school. The confidence of parents in the school is continuously increasing.
Leaders have put in place a curriculum that is well thought out. In each subject, curriculum leaders think carefully about what pupils need to learn and when. Pupils’ knowledge and skills build over time and their achievement has improved year on year. In some subjects, like physical education (PE) and design and technology, pupils use what they have learned from other subjects. For example, in PE, when pupils learn about the skeletal system, they also use prior knowledge from biology. This is not as strong in other subjects.
Teachers have strong subject knowledge. They revisit key facts regularly and use questioning well to check if pupils remember what they have learned. In many subjects, pupils could tell us what they were learning and how their knowledge is building up from previous lessons. Most teachers have high expectations of pupils’ work. However, the quality of work in pupils’ books is stronger in key stage 4 than in key stage 3 across different subjects.
Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities are supported well. They access the same learning and experiences as everyone else. Staff identify pupils’ learning needs quickly and plan any support that is required. As a result, thesepupils achieve well and sometimes better than their peers.
Leaders work very hard to make sure that all pupils attend school regularly and know the importance of good attendance. The attendance team works closely with families to provide any support required. As a result, the overall attendance of pupils is improving. However, disadvantaged pupils are still more likely to be absent from school than other pupils.
Pupils welcome the extensive programme of activities on offer. For example, pupils visit Paris as part of modern foreign languages. They also go on residential trips as part of extra-curricular qualifications and team-building. Pupils say that ‘there is lots to do after school’, especially in sports. Leaders are working hard in the community, especially with local primary schools. Careers education is a strength in Years 10 and 11. Pupils have lots of opportunities to experience the world of work, including enrichment days and work experience. However, careers education in key stage 3 is not as strong.
The principal and his senior leaders are committed to and passionate about the school, its staff and the pupils. They work well together as a team. Governors and trustees keep a strong oversight of the school’s work. The trust provides very effective support to the school in many ways, including subject-specific training for teachers and leadership training for subject leaders.
The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.
Leaders ensure that safeguarding records are accurate. Thorough recruitment checks are in place to ensure that staff are safe to work with pupils. The designated safeguarding leaders are knowledgeable and take safeguarding very seriously.
Teachers and pupils know what to do if they have any concerns. Staff receive regular training in safeguarding and, as a result, there is a culture of vigilance. Staff know the potential risks in the area and what to do if they have concerns about pupils. Pupils know what to do to stay safe, including when online. Leaders also make sure that pupils who attend alternative education provision are safe.
What does the school need to do to improve?
(Information for the school and appropriate authority)
Leaders have ensured that, in each subject, pupils’ knowledge builds up over their time in school. Leaders must now strengthen the curriculum further by ensuring that connections of knowledge between different subjects are fully embedded so that pupils can better integrate prior knowledge into new learning. . Leaders have worked hard over the last couple of years to instil high expectations across the school. Leaders must continue to reduce any variation in the standardsand expectations of pupils’ written work, particularly in key stage 3, so that the high-quality work that exists in key stage 4 is replicated across the school. . Staff work tirelessly to ensure that pupils attend school regularly. Although, overall, school attendance is improving, leaders must ensure that pupils’ attendance continues to improve, especially that of the disadvantaged pupils. . Careers information, advice and guidance are a strength of the school in key stage 4. Leaders must now strengthen the curriculum further so that pupils in key stage 3 benefit from careers education in the same way as older pupils do.