IPACA has been praised as a ‘good school’ in its first Ofsted inspection – but needs to gain full support of parents and the wider community if it is ever to get top marks.
In the Portland academy’s first inspection since it formed two years ago, assessors gave it a good rating overall, praising the “rapid” improvement in the standard of teaching and the achievement of pupils.
But for it to be judged as outstanding, students needed to be challenged to meet their full potential and teachers need to probe students’ knowledge further, the report said.
It also said leaders had ‘not entirely been entirely successful’ in gaining full support of parents and the wider community for the changes and developments that have been made to education on the island.
The Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy combined five former island schools into one academic hub, with initial plans sparking concern among some parents.
There has also been controversy about moving to a new site at Southwell Business Park and this year, IPACA won its appeal to build a new £14m campus.
The Ofsted report said: “To improve further, (it has to) improve communications so that parents and the wider community understand more clearly why changes are being made and the potential benefits for students and the wider community.”
Rob Russell, vice principal at the academy, said: “What the inspectors said was that the academy was doing incredibly well. To get a good rating in our first year is incredible.
“Ofsted asks schools to evaluate themselves, and one of the things we suggested to take us up into the outstanding category was more engagement with the community.
“What we are doing is improving our involvement with the local community.
“Some don’t realise what a good job we are doing in educating the children.
“It’s not about planning issues, it’s about the education we are providing which in my opinion is some of the best education that the children on Portland have ever received.
“There are some amazing things going on at the moment and it is now our job to get out there and tell people.”
Inspectors spoke with students, parents, governors and senior and middle leaders.
IPACA was given a good rating in the four categories, which were achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils and leadership and management.
The report praised the school for its standard of teaching and “relentlessly pursuing” an improvement to how students are taught throughout the school.
Students were also praised for their behaviour, eagerness to learn and attendance rates.
IPACA principal Alison Appleyard, pictured left, was praised for her “outstanding” work in securing improvements to teaching and achievement across the school, particularly rapid improvements in the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stages 1 and 2.
Mrs Appleyard said: “Ofsted has recognised that we are improving the attainment of our pupils and students across all ages.
“This means that the unique IPACA recipe of all-through-learning, stage-not-age, one-big-family, shoes-off learning, entrepreneurial mindset and digital innovation is having a significant and positive impact on the education and life chances of all of our learners.”