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Former trouble-hit special school is making good progress

Hope Wood Academy pupils Kayleigh Maddison and Joshua Newton with headteacher Carolyn Barker.
Hope Wood Academy pupils Kayleigh Maddison and Joshua Newton with headteacher Carolyn Barker.

A former trouble-hit special school is continuing to make progress say Ofsted bosses.

Hope Wood Academy in Easington is still moving forward say the education watchdogs.

The former Glendene Academy in Easington Colliery, now known as Hope Wood Academy.

The former Glendene Academy in Easington Colliery, now known as Hope Wood Academy.

The school, formerly called Glendene Arts Academy, was thrown into turmoil in summer 2014 when Ofsted placed it in special measures for a catalogue of failings.

However, after joining the Sunderland-based Ascent Trust, a multi-academy trust of special needs schools, and changing the name of the school to Hope Wood Academy, Ofsted bosses confirmed the Crawlaw Road school had turned a corner.

Now, after making a monitoring visit to the school this month, inspectors said it is still making good progress.

They said the school is taking effective action towards the removal of special measures and can now appoint newly qualified teachers.

In a letter to headteacher Carolyn Barker they said: “The recent appointments of middle leaders are adding to the capacity of the school to bring about the necessary improvements.

“Senior leaders continue to drive change across the school, not least in challenging teachers to improve their practice.”

Inspectors said the school’s development plan continues to provide a clear focus on the key areas for ongoing improvements.

They said: “There are clear and realistic timescales and milestones to ensure that senior leaders and trustees are fully aware of the progress being made across all priority areas.

“The trust’s ‘monitoring, challenge and support’ group, holds senior leaders to account for the quality of provision and the progress being made against identified weaknesses.

“The executive headteacher’s self-evaluation of the school’s current provision is detailed and honest. It recognises that there are still weak areas which need to urgently improve.”

Inspectors said although substantial progress had been made, the curriculum still needs further work.

They said quality of teaching is also improving, but more consistency is needed across the school.

Inspectors said: “Throughout this inspection, the overwhelming majority of pupils behaved sensibly and were generally attentive and interested in their learning.”

To mark a fresh new start for the school, which caters for children with special needs, aged two to 19, the pupils and parents made the decision to change the name of the school to Hope Wood Academy last year.

It now boasts new uniforms, new staff and a new way of working.

Carolyn Barker, headteacher at Hope Wood, as well as Barbara Priestman Academy in Sunderland, said: “The school officially joined the Ascent Trust on November 1, so we felt a change of name would reflect that.”

She said they have has good feedback from parents about the changes made so far.