Lord Derby Academy, Knowsley, achieves the Inclusive School Award with Centre of Excellence Status.
Lord Derby Academy is a mixed comprehensive Secondary School in the borough of Knowsley. In February 2014, the School, previously known as Huyton Arts and Sports Centre for Learning, became a sponsor-led Academy, joining the Multi-Academy Dean Trust, under the name Lord Derby Academy. The Dean Trust comprises of six secondary schools and four primary schools across Knowsley, Wigan, Manchester and Trafford. The Dean Trust Teaching School provides support for staff across the Multi Academy Trust as well as delivering external support to other schools and academies across the North West and beyond. Lord Derby Academy serves the community of Huyton in Knowsley, a borough which experiences significantly higher than average levels of economic and social deprivation. The school is in the highest quintile on the School Deprivation Indicator according to the Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR Feb 2019). The proportion of disadvantaged students is above the national average, currently 54% of the student population, as is the proportion of students with identified SEND. Most students are of White British heritage. According to the Knowsley Council’s Huyton Profile 2018 report, Knowsley ‘is the second most deprived Local Authority in the Country and Huyton is the second most deprived of the four locality areas’ with levels of deprivation double that of national statistics.
Diversity is Celebrated
Despite the complex challenges of the local community it serves, Lord Derby Academy is a school where high standards and expectations are embraced by all. The aspirational culture is a shared ethos; a genuine belief that everyone in its community can achieve the highest ambitions, regardless of starting points, backgrounds or any additional needs. The school’s motto ‘Believe, Achieve, Succeed’ is visible externally from when you arrive and is displayed throughout the school building. It permeates all policies and everyday behaviours and routines. These well-rehearsed routines and structures liberate the students so that they can express themselves freely and they are accepting of each other’s differences. Diversity is celebrated, yet there is a clear vision, which is the same for every child, based on a culture of ambition. The staff at Lord Derby Academy are tenacious in their mission for every student to succeed and they do not give up on any child. Their almost non-existent fixed term and permanent exclusion figures are evidence of this.
The school has been on a journey of rapid improvement. It is now an oversubscribed school of choice in the local area and it has an excellent reputation amongst students and parents and across the Borough. The most recent Ofsted inspection report (April 2019) recognises that the school’s ‘work to promote students’ personal development and welfare is outstanding.’ Some of the strengths highlighted in the report note that ‘students’ behaviour is consistently good’ and that ‘they are keen to learn.’ The Senior Team are very ambitious for students’ successes and students are ‘supported to become confident, kind and aspirational citizens.’ The overall judgement of ‘requiring improvement’ is not reflected in the improving picture of student outcomes and the evidence of more recent external monitoring visits. The school and Trust Leaders have judged the school as ‘good’ in all areas in their most recent SEF, a judgement which I would agree with based on the evidence collated over the course of my two-day visit.
Traditional and Inclusive Curriculum
Student outcomes at Lord Derby Academy are improving across all headline measures. Students enter the school with attainment at KS2 which is significantly below national average but make good progress, particularly the prior low attainer group. The disadvantaged students made slightly better progress than their non-disadvantaged peers in 2019. Lord Derby offers an academic yet inclusive curriculum. Last academic year, 75.4% of the cohort were entered for the EBACC subjects, well above local and national averages. 71% of disadvantaged students were entered for the EBACC in comparison to 44% of non-disadvantaged students nationally. The leaders are proud of their “traditional and inclusive” curriculum which challenges all students and is matched to their “abilities, interests and aspirations.”
The two-day IQM assessment process included an evaluation of the documentary evidence provided by the IQM Coordinator along with external documentation, such as the latest Ofsted report, data from the School Performance Service, a recent external review of teaching and learning and the school’s website. The assessment visit comprised of meetings with representatives from key stakeholders, including Senior Staff, the IQM coordinator, Executives from the Dean Trust, the SENDCO, teaching and non-teaching staff, Governors, parents, students and representatives from the School’s key external partners, including the Local Authority and an Alternative Provision provider. During the two-day assessment, I carried out learning walks, book scrutinies, an audit of the displays and school environment, discussions with students, staff, parents and stakeholders in addition to observations of social times and an after-school training session. I also attended an assembly, observed interventions taking place in the inclusion centre and was able to observe the post-16 college interviews which were taking place over the course of my visit.
Clear Commitment to Inclusion
The Senior Leaders and wider Inclusion Team have a clear commitment to inclusion and support staff well. All adults within the school are committed to and passionate about the inclusion agenda. Every member of staff who was spoken to during the assessment days was able to clearly articulate a shared vision for inclusion.
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