Whitehill Community Academy

Name Whitehill Community Academy
Website http://www.whitehillacademy.org
Ofsted Inspection Rating Good
Inspection Date 22 January 2020
Address Occupation Lane, Illingworth, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX2 9RL
Phone Number 01422244471
Type Primary
Age Range 3-11
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 689 (46% boys 54% girls)
Number of Pupils per Teacher 23.9
Academy Sponsor I-Trust Education
Local Authority Calderdale
Percentage Free School Meals 24.1%
Percentage English is Not First Language 2.3%
Persisitent Absence 5.5%
Pupils with SEN Support 18.9%
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?

Pupils are very happy and enjoy coming to school. Attendance is above the national average. Pupils look very smart in their school uniform and they wear this with pride. Pupils’ behaviour is exemplary. There is no bullying. If pupils fall out, the staff work quickly to help pupils make friends again.

Pupils really enjoy curriculum enrichment sessions every Friday afternoon. They get the chance to learn new skills such as woodwork, cooking, sewing and British Sign Language.

This school is very inclusive. There is a large staff team to help pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Leaders have recently set up ‘leaps and bounds’ to give extra help to pupils who need it. Staff have had extra training to help them calm pupils down. There are no permanent exclusions and hardly any fixed-term exclusions.

Parents and carers appreciate how much leaders do to support their children and families. Parents choose this school because they know how good it is.

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

Children get off to a flying start in early years. Relationships between adults and children are positive and nurturing. Children feel safe and settled, so they are thriving. Parents told inspectors that they are welcome to visit for phonics workshops. They are looking forward to the ‘great big bedtime story’ session that is coming soon. Teachers regularly update parents about their child’s progress.

Teachers put resources inside and outdoors that catch children’s interest and imagination. Children share and take turns. They are engrossed in their learning and persevere when they are using their fine motor skills. Children sit still and listen attentively when they are learning phonics. Children in Reception Year are well prepared for Year 1.

Even though children achieve so well in Reception, teachers in Year 1 go back over early phonics work. They delay teaching the Year 1 sounds in September. Pupils achieve results that are above the national average in the Year 1 phonics screening check. However, pupils who do not reach this standard have not had long enough to learn the new Year 1 sounds. The Year 1 phonics curriculum starts in November, which is too late for those that need extra practice.

In key stage 2, leaders have prioritised checking that pupils know the meaning of words. They have asked teachers to spend a lot of time teaching the whole class what different words mean. Some pupils already know the meaning of words that teachers explain.

Reading has a high priority. Leaders have been very successful in getting parents to hear their children read every day. Almost all parents are doing this. However, teachers do not hear pupils read very often. The whole class reads a vocabulary sheet together, but pupils read their reading books less often to their teacher.

Teachers would like to hear pupils read their reading books more often. Leaders welcomed this challenge. Pupils told inspectors that they would like to read to their teacher more often. This would help all pupils make better progress, but it would help the struggling readers most of all. Leaders know this, and they are thinking again about the way that they have balanced the reading curriculum.

Leaders asked staff to work together in curriculum teams. Middle leaders successfully lead these teams. All subjects have been carefully planned. Leaders have identified the most important content to be covered in each subject. Teachers make sure that pupils can see how their learning is connected. This helps pupils to remember important ideas and concepts.

The mathematics curriculum is well designed and implemented. It is sequential and builds on prior learning. Pupils are given frequent opportunities to apply their mathematical knowledge to reasoning and problem solving.

Teachers have good subject knowledge in science. They use scientific language precisely in lessons and pupils understand this vocabulary. Pupils enjoy science investigations. This practical work helps pupils remember their learning.

Pupils enjoy learning about history and comparing how things have changed over time. Pupils say that history is now taught regularly, and they are proud that they know much more about it. Some pupils said that they even know more than their mum and dad.

Teachers feel highly valued and well supported with their workload. Parents told inspectors what a brilliant job the headteacher is doing. Pupils said that the most important thing that they would not change about their school is the headteacher.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Safeguarding leaders are supported by a team of learning mentors. They work closely together to make sure that pupils are safe.

Leaders have recently improved their policy and procedures to make sure that pupils with special dietary needs are kept safe. The special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) writes individual healthcare plans for pupils with medical conditions. The SENCo follows government guidance and recommendations closely.

Governors do not rely solely on the information that leaders provide. They asked the local authority to audit safeguarding arrangements last October to check this externally. Governors challenge leaders appropriately.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

Teachers are holding pupils back by spending longer than they need revising earlier learning in phonics. This prevents those pupils who struggle to learn to read from having maximum time to practise the new sounds they are taught in Year 1. Leaders should ensure that teachers follow the phonics programme at the intended pace and check to make sure that pupils are meeting the milestones set for their age, at each stage of the phonics programme. . Teachers do not hear pupils read their reading books very often. This is slowing the progress of struggling readers who need frequent practice reading books that are well matched to their phonics knowledge. Leaders should review the curriculum balance between vocabulary teaching and the opportunities pupils are given to read their reading books to an adult in school. This will help all pupils to become equally confident and fluent readers.