Aspire Academy head welcomes report ‘boost’

Education spending must keep up with demand.

Education spending must keep up with demand.

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An academy formed three years ago from two failing schools has been told it requires improvement.

Aspire Academy in Blackpool Old Road was opened in 2014 following a merger of Bispham High School, which was in special measures, and Collegiate High School, which was found to have serious weaknesses.

Leaders’ use of the additional funding for disadvantaged pupils has not yet secured rapid enough improvement

An Ofsted report found the school ‘continues to improve’ and outlines several ‘good’ features. But pupils are not making good progress, it said, with teachers finding it hard to assess whether pupils are under-performing, while attendance is also not good enough.

Headteacher Lisa Shuttleworth-Brown said: “This is such a boost for everyone and it clearly recognises how much we have all achieved over such a short period of time. We are now looking forward to developing specific areas in order to give our students the fantastic start in life that they and their families deserve.”

The academy was inspected over two days late last year by a team of inspectors whose report praised senior teachers and governors for improving the ‘culture and ethos.

“Most pupils’ behaviour and attitudes towards their learning has improved markedly since the school’s opening,” it said. “Pupils feel safe in the school and there are very strong systems in place to ensure they are kept safe.”

Other strengths include care for vulnerable youngsters, while pupils were found to ‘value each other’s views’.

The school’s reading programme was also hailed for ‘fostering a love of reading’.

To improve to ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, the watchdog’s top score, the 631-pupil school was told to ‘eradicate inconsistencies in the quality of teaching’, boost progress across subjects, improve attendance and tackle poor behaviour amongst the pupils who ‘have yet to respond consistently well to the school’s high expectations’.

“In 2015 and 2016, pupils’ progress was significantly below the national average,” it added.

“Leaders’ use of the additional funding for disadvantaged pupils has not yet secured rapid enough improvement.”

Aspire is run by the Fylde Coast Academy Trust.

A previous version of this article used a photograph showing a sign for both Aspire Academy and Highfurlong School, which both share the same site. Highfurlong was not covered by this report and was rated ‘outstanding’ in its most recent Ofsted report in 2014.