IMPROVED pupil behaviour and fewer exclusions were found when inspectors carried out a check up at a Sheffield academy.
Inspectors visited Parkwood Academy at Shirecliffe to check on its progress since it changed its status as a local authority school in September 2009.
They found pupil numbers were increasing with almost half coming from ethnic minority groups and some new to the country, in particular youngsters of Romany Slovakian origin.
The inspection team found children’s levels of attainment were low overall when they started at the academy.
GCSE pass rates were below minimum standards expected for their age - and were below the national average.
One problem had been the higher than average levels of staff absence which had resulted in disruption to some subjects, especially maths.
The pupils’ performances varied widely between subjects, with progress in English significantly below expected levels while progress in maths was broadly satisfactory.
Standards in PE were higher than national averages and more than half the students gained a qualification in a modern foreign language.
Teachers were working hard to close gaps between underachieving groups of pupils and the rest.
Forecasts for this year’s GCSE results were encouraging.
During their visit inspectors found learning was proceeding at a brisk pace with imaginative activities engaging all the pupils fully.
There was praise for schemes which enabled the youngsters to get more involved in school activities, such as the student council and peer mentor and sports leader schemes.
The pupils themselves said behaviour had improved and there were now fewer instances when their learning was disrupted by others.
But some inappropriate behaviour persisted, including low-level chatter that was not consistently challenged by teachers.
Across the academy the quality of teaching was improving and the inspectors noted two examples of outstanding practice.
Staff had recognised the current curriculum no longer effectively matched the pupils’ needs and a new programme was to be introduced in September.
There would be greater flexibility for students starting courses at the age of 14 and off-site provision was being developed to increase the range of work-related courses available.
Overall inspectors found satisfactory progress was being made to improve standards.
The academy was also due to be fully staffed for the autumn term.
New accommodation at the Academy was on schedule to be completed by spring 2012.
n To read the inspectors’ full report see: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/filedownloading/id=1712011&type=1&refer=0