Whitworth Park Academy

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About Whitworth Park Academy

Name Whitworth Park Academy
Website http://www.whitworthpark.org.uk
Ofsted Inspections
Mr Stuart Dixon
Address Whitworth Lane, Spennymoor, DL16 7LN
Phone Number 01388824800
Phase Academy
Type Academy sponsor led
Age Range 11-16
Religious Character None
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 847
Local Authority County Durham
Highlights from Latest Inspection

What is it like to attend this school?

Whitworth Park Academy is a welcoming and inclusive school. Pupils develop a strong sense of belonging and pride in their school community.

Leaders have high expectations for pupils' academic success. Staff help pupils to develop strength of character and resilience. The ethos 'children at the heart of everything we do' is a strong feature of life at the school.

There have been significant changes at the school in a short space of time. The vision, determination and actions of leaders and staff have led to considerable improvement.

Pupils behave well in lessons.

They are keen to answer questions and share their ideas. Bullying is rare. If pupils rais...e a concern, they know that staff will take action to address it.

They understand how to stay safe in person and online. Pupils are well supported by staff that know and care for them.

Pupils' personal development is a strength in the school.

Leaders plan a number of 'Inspire' days throughout the year which enrich pupils' understanding of their local community and the wider world. Pupils hear from visiting speakers, go on educational visits and take part in team building activities. Pupils value these opportunities to learn outside of the classroom.

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

Leaders have designed a curriculum to meet the needs of all pupils. There are planned opportunities for pupils to explore a diverse range of texts in English and solve complex problems in mathematics. Teachers are knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects.

Most teachers help pupils gain a detailed understanding of each subject by asking them challenging questions. However, some teachers do not carefully adapt their explanations or activity choices to help pupils understand more complex topics. This means that learning in some lessons is not as effective as it could be.

Pupils have access to a broad range of subjects at key stage 3. In art and technology lessons, pupils learn important skills that are needed in several subjects. However, pupils do not study some subjects in depth.

They do not have the opportunity to re-visit important knowledge. This is because the time allocated to study each topic is too short.

Teachers carefully check what pupils do, and do not, understand in each lesson.

They use formal assessment to identify what pupils do and do not remember over time. Teachers use this information well to improve pupils' knowledge and understanding of the curriculum.

Leaders have taken steps to increase the number of pupils taking the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) suite of subjects, for example by introducing a second language to the curriculum.

However, all pupils are required to study a qualification in information and communication technology at key stage 4. This limits the choice of other qualifications they can choose to study.

Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) have detailed plans in place to support them.

Teachers have developed specific strategies to support pupils with SEND. However, while teachers have the information they need to be able to plan lessons to meet the needs of pupils with SEND, some teachers do not use this information well enough.

Leaders have identified pupils who struggle to read fluently.

A reading programme to support these pupils is in place. It is taught by a teacher with specialist training. Additional staff are currently being trained to ensure all pupils who need extra help with their reading receive it.

Over time, incidents of poor behaviour, numbers of suspensions and permanent exclusions have fallen. Rates of attendance are closely monitored. Leaders have developed a 'Support 4 Success' provision in the school.

This targets pupils who are persistently absent or struggling to re-engage with education following the pandemic. This has been successful in improving the attendance of many pupils who attend this programme.

The curriculum for personal, social and health education is precisely planned.

It helps pupils to understand a range of important topics, such as healthy living, positive relationships and becoming an active citizen. Leaders ensure pupils have the opportunity to learn about further education and employment. Independent careers advice is available.

This information helps pupils make informed choices about their futures.

School leaders and those responsible for governance have a clear vision for the future of the school. Staff share this vision.

They feel their views and well-being are carefully considered by leaders. Professional development is a priority. Staff value the opportunity to strengthen their practice and work together as a team.

Leaders have an accurate understanding of how to further improve the school. However, some changes they have made are very recent and are not fully embedded.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Leaders responsible for safeguarding are skilled and knowledgeable. They provide training for staff to help them recognise when a young person may be at risk of harm. Staff understand these risks.

They know how to report their concerns and feel they will be acted on quickly once raised. Records show that leaders take effective and timely action to address safeguarding concerns.

Leaders have established strong links with organisations that support vulnerable pupils.

This ensures pupils who need it receive swift and effective help that supports their physical and mental well-being. Leaders provide regular safeguarding updates for parents, related to online risks, for example, that help keep pupils safe outside of school.

What does the school need to do to improve?

(Information for the school and appropriate authority)

• Some pupils do not have the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects at all stages of their education.

This, in part, is due to the limited curriculum time given to some subjects at key stage 3. As a result, not all pupils receive a broad, rich set of experiences. Leaders should ensure they review and amend the curriculum offer to ensure that all pupils have the opportunity to develop talents and interests across all curriculum areas.

• In some lessons, teachers do not consistently implement planned strategies to meet the needs of all pupils, including those with SEND. Consequently, pupils including those with SEND, do not learn as well as they might. Leaders should ensure that staff receive further training to help them adapt and implement teaching strategies to meet the needs of all pupils.

• New leaders have identified a number of priorities to further strengthen the quality of education pupils receive. Some of these changes are very new. Senior leaders should ensure that there is the capacity to quality assure the impact of these changes and provide further staff training to support ongoing school improvement.

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