Tudor Grange Academy Worcester has achieved Centre of Excellence status.
Students Come First
Scratching beneath the surface of this warm and welcoming school, I found a genuine ambition and integrity that reveals what really matters most. Quite simply, students come first, and all students receive equitable provision and support.
Tudor Grange Academy Worcester is part of the Tudor Grange Academies Trust, consisting currently of 10 schools (5 secondary, 4 primary and 1 all-through school). It is a larger than average secondary school within Worcester City with 1071 pupils on roll. Of those students on roll, 29% are Pupil Premium, 11% of students are on the SEN register, with 19% students on SEN Support. The proportion of disadvantaged pupils is above average. The proportion of pupils with SEND is above average. The number of pupils who have an education, health and care plan is in line with the national average.
Tudor Grange Academy Worcester became an Academy within the Tudor Grange Academies Trust in 2010. It was a school previously facing closure and in special measures. The school is now a successful, larger than average, secondary school with a small Sixth Form. Each successive Principal has been relentless in their drive to forge community relationships and to re-establish the school back into the community. Relationships locally have strengthened, and the current Principal is actively involved in the local Fair Access Protocol and the Worcestershire Headteachers’ Board. The work that the Principal is currently undertaking locally is to generate mainstream autistic base (MAB) and a specialist provision base.
Vision and Values
Senior Leaders and Governors have a clear vision and next steps for the school. They are acutely aware of the context of the school and astutely fashion strategy, policies and practice to serve each and every student and their families. The school is very well supported by the Tudor Grange Multi Academies Trust which provides overall direction and additional capacity. The staff I met discussed various aspects of the school, displayed great skill, expertise and understanding and also shared the vision and values of the school.
The school building is about ten years old, and I was able to see most of it through the excellent video tours of the school which is housed on the equally impressive school website. The building appears in good order, modern, very well resourced, bright and welcoming. The specialist provision required in several subjects (such as science, music, design & technology and P.E.) plus those resources for students with additional needs are available. The school is accessible to anyone with a physical disability. The Sixth Form has its own centre within the main school building with excellent provision for independent study. There is a display of former students’ destinations after leaving Sixth Form.
An Inclusive Ethos
The pastoral and academic care and support offered by staff is of the highest order. There are three teams of suitably skilled and experienced staff who form the Achievement Team, Inclusion Team and the Safeguarding Team. Assessment and tracking through all three teams are excellent, being comprehensive and providing good information which helps shape decision making. The curriculum at KS3 and KS4 is impressive and supports an inclusive ethos throughout and especially through the STEPS programme. In the Sixth Form, there is a wide variety of courses available including both A Level and BTEC. The breadth is impressive. Admission into Sixth Form, although there is criteria, is applied flexibly to students in Year 11 who fail to reach the requirements. I received several case studies highlighting how students in this position were granted entry and went on to achieve their ambitions. One such student had failed GCSE English Language but was given the opportunity to re-sit and has now gone on to university to study biochemistry. Another student failed to pass mathematics by the time she left Sixth Form but who subsequently went on to university to begin a foundation degree. I met with four current members of the Sixth Form who were articulate and friendly and explained how well the school had supported them throughout their time at the school.
Quality First Teaching
There was evidence of good lesson planning which is applied consistently across all subjects. There is also a very strong emphasis on ‘Quality First Teaching’. Of course, the recent lockdown and measures taken for social distancing since the September return have presented many challenges to the staff and have necessitated changes to pedagogy. Staff have responded positively and adapted well to the changing conditions to ensure that, as best as possible, disruption to students’ learning is minimised.
An Over Subscribed School
Feedback form parental surveys including the one administered by Ofsted, suggest that parents support the school and place a high value on its provision. The fact that the school is full and receives in the region of 2.5 applications per place available is testimony to the reputation the school now has and the confidence that parents have in sending their children to the school. Nevertheless, parental engagement remains a challenge despite the good communication and the openness of the school. Recognising the importance of this aspect of school life, leaders and Governors have a new strategy to create a parent ‘Think Tank’ which is in its infancy. The aim is to enlist the proactive support of a group of parents to play a significant part in fostering greater parental engagement.
Contributing to Parental and Community Engagement
I met with the Chair of the Local Board of Governors who is also a parent of the school. She explained that the board had been restructured after the last Ofsted inspection and one of the main aims for the new board was to contribute to improving parental engagement and community engagement. Strategically, this is seen as a high priority. The board is made up of Governors who have a broad range of skills and experience which provides greater capacity in some key areas. Governors are active within the school and provide a good balance of support and challenge to Senior Leaders. Governors are aware of the context of the school and share the ambitions and values of the Academy.
Skills Action Service
The Skills Action Service curriculum is part of the school’s core provision for Years 7, 8 and 9. There are two hours of dedicated curriculum time every Wednesday afternoon to a variety of courses, which are designed to ensure that students develop a range of skills which they will use to serve a local, national or even international community. This year the focus will be on reinforcing links with the local primary schools and charities based in the city, with students demonstrating and teaching the skills they have learnt to younger children and supporting other members of the community. Alongside this, students will also be working hard to support key Academy events such as the Winter Fayre and the Spring Showcase, utilising their skills to raise money for the charities selected by the students.
Liaising with Many Other Organisations
The school draws upon external support and liaises positively with many other organisations. The Learning Support Team in particular have established good links with many organisations and individuals. The school plays its part as a proactive member of the Multi Academy Trust and is also very well supported by the Trust and the other member schools.
Navigating Through Lockdown
The school should be congratulated for the skilful way in which it navigated a smooth course through lockdown. Staff described procedures which were adapted to ensure safety and the continuation of a meaningful experience throughout the partial closure. Since September, further measures have been taken to maintain a safe environment and experience for all who work and learn at the school.
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