Whitelands Academy

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About Whitelands Academy

Name Whitelands Academy
Website http://www.whitelandsacademy.org
Ofsted Inspections
Mrs Clair Edwards
Address Hexham Road, Bicester, OX26 1AY
Phone Number 01869716996
Phase Academy
Type Free schools
Age Range 11-16
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 361
Local Authority Oxfordshire
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

In a short space of time, leaders and trustees have successfully created a distinctive and vibrant school.

Pupils are being well prepared to succeed academically and to become responsible citizens. High expectations of all pupils and a clear set of values, known as 'our traits', are the foundations of the school. Pupils understand and live up to these values.

They enjoy their learning and are appreciative of the help they receive from staff, who know them well.

The school is calm and orderly. Pupils feel safe in school, and there is a culture of respect.

Staff have very high expectations of behaviour. The 'roll call' system provides an opportunity fo...r staff to reinforce expectations throughout the day.

Relationships between staff and pupils are warm.

They interact well at break and lunchtimes. Pupils appreciate the work that teachers do to recognise their individual successes and to support them when needed. Achievements are celebrated through the house system and the use of the 'behaviour mastery cards'.

Bullying is rare, and derogatory language is not accepted. Any incidents are responded to swiftly and effectively.

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

The provision for pupils' personal development is outstanding.

The personal, social, health and economic education programme (PSHE) is very well planned and delivered. Pupils are educated well about important issues through lessons, tutor time activities and assemblies. Many subjects help to develop pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding throughout the curriculum.

Pupils say that they are taught 'what's right and what's wrong'. They demonstrate a very confident understanding of issues like healthy relationships, including consent. Pupils, including those who are disadvantaged and those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), regularly take part in the broad range of clubs on offer.

The careers programme is a particular strength. Pupils receive guidance through cross-curricular opportunities, assemblies, visiting speakers and career days.

Leaders have designed an ambitious and challenging key stage 3 curriculum.

They have thought carefully about what pupils need to learn and when. Languages is a particular strength, with all pupils studying both French and Spanish. Pupils are being well prepared to continue studying languages in key stage 4.

Where necessary, staff from within the trust have provided specialist subject expertise to develop the curriculum.

Promoting pupils' confidence and enjoyment in reading is at the heart of the curriculum. Pupils enjoy reading with their teachers during daily guided reading lessons.

These sessions help pupils to appreciate an ambitious and diverse range of literature. Leaders carefully identify pupils who are struggling with reading. Specialist teaching for the weakest readers ensures that these pupils catch up quickly.

The curriculum is generally delivered effectively, and pupils learn well. Pupils' positive attitudes to learning and the consistent use of the behaviour policy lead to a purposeful atmosphere in lessons. Staff have been well trained to use teaching methods that challenge and support all pupils, including those with SEND.

Clear routines are in place to help pupils recall and deepen their knowledge. Pupils say that regularly carrying out 'DNA' tasks supports their learning and 'helps things to stick in our brain'. However, occasionally, teachers do not check carefully enough that all pupils have understood key points.

As a result, teachers do not always address pupils' errors and misconceptions before moving on.

Trustees and governors are highly ambitious for the school. They are determined to maintain the school's standards and values as it grows in size.

The Trust provides valuable expertise and support, including for leadership, curriculum development and staff training. Staff feel well supported by leaders. They recognise the heavy workload involved in setting up a new school, but they feel well supported by leaders.

The school is heavily over-subscribed, and most parents are appreciative of the school. However, a minority express concerns, particularly about communication and support for pupils with SEND.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

The new principal prioritised strengthening staff knowledge and safeguarding procedures in the school. All staff, including lunchtime supervisors, receive regular training and guidance. They are highly vigilant and report anything that does not feel right.

The safeguarding team is experienced and knowledgeable of risks in the local area. The team keeps a watchful eye on all pupils and acts quickly if there are any concerns. Leaders ensure that all systems and records are meticulously organised so that nothing is missed.

Leaders work relentlessly to ensure that pupils and their families get the support they need from other agencies.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• At times, the use of assessment for learning does not help pupils to embed knowledge and use it fluently. Teachers do not routinely promote appropriate discussion about learning to check that pupils' understanding is secure before moving on to new learning.

Leaders should ensure that assessment is used consistently to support pupils to deepen their understanding over time. ? A minority of parents, particularly those with children with SEND, do not feel that the school responds to concerns or queries in a timely and effective manner. Leaders should ensure they develop strong channels of communication with parents to allow them to work together effectively.

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