Unity City Academy

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Unity City Academy
Unity City Academy logo.png
Motto A learning community (old) "To make our best better" new since September 2012
Established 2003
Type Academy
Principal Miss Gemma Triggs (interim)[1]
Location Ormesby Road
Middlesbrough
North Yorkshire
TS3 8RE
England
Coordinates: 54°33′23″N 1°11′52″W / 54.55632°N 1.19769°W / 54.55632; -1.19769
Local authority Middlesbrough
DfE URN 133768 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–16
Houses Adventure, Discovery, Endeavour, Resolution. In theme of Captain Cook Ships
Colours green, red, orange, indigo yellow pink
Registered company number (England and Wales) 4357009
Registered charity number (England and Wales) 1091063
Website Unity City Academy

Unity City Academy is a city academy in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England, sponsored by the Academies Enterprise Trust.

History[edit]

Unity City Academy opened in 2003. It was formed by the merger of Keldholme School and Langbaurgh School, sponsored by support services company Amey plc. The funding for the Academy consisted of £8 million from the Department for Education and £2 million from the sponsor, Amey.[2] The Academy was built for 1,200 pupils, although the February 2014 OFSTED report states that the Academy had only 671 pupils.[3] In 2016, it has only 624 pupils recorded.[4] After opening, the Academy went through a period of difficulty, including being placed in Special Measures in 2005.[5] In September 2006 the academy was relaunched as a Vocational and Enterprise Centre, following the building of a new enterprise centre funded by the Department for Education and Skills.[6] In 2009, The school was declared inadequate by OFSTED and placed in Special Measures for a second time.[7] In order to raise standards, the Department for Education intervened. A Chief Executive, a Director of Education and an Executive Principal (David Fuller) were appointed.[8] The Academy improved and in March 2013 was graded as 'Good' by OFSTED,[9][10] but by January 2016 it had been given a warning notice by the Department for Education for unacceptable low standards.[11] The Academy has changed sponsor twice. It also went through a highly-unusual 14-month period when it had no sponsor at all.[12]

Academic standards[edit]

This table shows the proportion of pupils achieving 5 GCSEs A-C (including English and Maths). Historical data is taken from the Department for Education School and College Performance Tables.[13] As the data for 2016 has not yet been published by the DfE it is taken from schools self reporting[14]

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
National maintained school results 59% 59% 60% 57% 56% 55%
Unity City Academy results 25% 48% 34% 34% 26% 19%

The minimum standard acceptable for an English school (known as the 'floor target') is 40% 5A-C (including English and Maths).[15] Unity City Academy missed that target for the three years between 2013 and 2015.

In 2013, the first set of exam results as an AET Academy saw results falling to 34% of pupils gaining 5 GCSEs A-C (including English and Maths). This placed the school 2,115th out of the 3123 secondary schools in England.[16] The falling exam results in 2013 led to an Ofsted inspection and report in February 2014. Ofsted reported that

The academy’s current assessment information indicates that Year 11 students are now on course to increase the proportion attaining five A* to C GCSE grades, including English and mathematics in 2014.[17]

However, contrary to expectations the proportion of pupils gaining 5GCSEs A-C (including English and Maths) did not increase in 2014. Commenting on the 2014 exam results Mr Powell, the Principal, said:

The results last year were not what I would have expected. I feel a moral draw to work in schools in which I can help to raise aspirations and achievement of the pupils in them.[18]

Following these comments, results declined further from 34% to 26% (2015) and then 19% (2016).

In addition to disappointing and declining exam results, AET's own data shows that Unity City Academy has also struggled to accurately predict its results. A report by Beverley Perin to the AET board shows that in January 2016, Unity City Academy predicted summer exam results of 29% for the year.[19] In reality, the academy achieved just 19%. The evidence of declining exam results and an inability to accurately forecast results raised serious questions about the accuracy of OFSTED's own judgement that "Systems to check the quality of teaching and students’ achievement are extensive and rigorous..."(Ofsted 2014).

Mr Powell previously led East Point Academy which also had declining exam results which had fallen below the minimum standard of the floor target.[20] In 2015, the exam results at Unity City Academy fell to their lowest level in four years.[21] The results then fell further still in 2016 to just 19% of students achieving 5 A-C grades at GCSE (including Maths and English).[22] Mr Powell resigned as Principal and left the AET trust by taking a position as Principal at North Walsham High School in Norfolk[23]

In addition to concerns about exam results, concerns were raised in 2014 about how narrow the curriculum was at Unity City Academy and how such a narrow curriculum can damage children’s employment prospects. For example, it was found that two local schools, one of which was Unity City Academy, had just 1% of pupils achieving the curriculum breadth known as the English Baccalaureate.[24]

In 2015, Principal, Neil Powell was very optimistic about the future of Unity City Academy, stating:

Within the next three years, Unity City Academy will be rated as an Outstanding Academy with students achieving excellent GCSE results.[25]

In reality, results collapsed to be reported as 50% below the national average[26] and he himself left his post following the school being criticised by the DfE for having "unacceptably low standards."

OFSTED and DfE controversy[edit]

OFSTED inspected Unity City Academy in 2013 and declared that it was a 'good' school. Following a drop in results to 34% in 2013 OFSTED came back in January 2014 and re-inspected the school. It confirmed that the school was still 'good'. However since that date results continued to drop to 19% in January 2016. OFSTED has not returned to reinspect the school and is sticking with its prior judgement. However the Department for Education wrote to Unity City Academy in January 2016 complaining about "unacceptably low standards."[27] The DfE stated "The Academy has had three consecutive years with poor results...Not enough pupils make or exceed expected levels of progress. In 2013 English and maths were both considerably below national medians..."[27] Referring to the same data OFSTED made a contradictory judgement in February 2014 stating: "Overall, during their time at the academy, students make good progress in a range of subjects and their attainment in their best eight subjects is significantly above the national average. A similar picture is evident for all key groups of students, including those supported by pupil premium funding and those with additional learning needs"[28]

Principals of the Academy[edit]

Between 2008 and 2015 Patricia Towey was the principal.[29] She was in post before AET took over the school. She has been described as the Academy's most successful principal,[30] pioneering innovative programmes to accelerate pupil's learning in English and Literacy[31] During this time, the school become the "most improved school in Middlesbrough."[32] When she departed from the post of principal, there was confusion about the circumstances. Her departure was initially described as a departure to spend six months travelling around the world.[33] However, she was reported to have taken on the leadership and guidance of 17 other schools within the Academies Enterprise Trust network, in order to help other AET schools improve and become as good as she had made Unity City Academy.[34] She never actually started that post.[citation needed]

For a short period after Mrs Towey left, Richard Harrison, the school's vice principal, took over leadership of the school, with Sue Hare as executive principal. Sue Hare was an AET principal who had led Gillbrook Academy and Eston Park Academy, both of which schools had been declared inadequate by OFSTED.

The next principal was Neil Powell, who had previously been an AET Principal at East Point Academy in 2014, having only fully qualified as a teacher in 2011.[citation needed] He led East Point Academy before it left the Academies Enterprise Trust network to join the Inspiration Trust[35] following a collapse in East Point's exam results from 41% (5ACEM) to 39% and then 32%.[36] Mr Powell stated during the takeover of East Point that he wished to "remain with the AET"[37] and so he was transferred to become Principal of Unity City Academy. He initially lobbied against the Inspiration Trust takeover of East Point Academy saying that he would resign if it went ahead.[38] Despite this, the Inspiration Trust immediately managed to raise exam results in its first year running the school (after 3 years of declining exam results under AET). Mr Powell has also been cited as "instrumental in bringing... (his former school East Point Academy) out of special measures[39] however the OFSTED report for East Point Academy notes that it came out of Special Measures in the year after he left his post there as Principal.

Mr Powell resigned and left Unity City Academy in April 2016. He was appointed Headteacher of North Walsham High School and a message from that school on 21 April 2016 announced his appointment and stated, "Discussions are now underway with Mr Powell’s current school about when he will start as head at NWHS; it is hoped that he will take up his post before the end of the summer term."[40] The chair of Governors at Unity City Academy wrote to parents on 13 May 2016 announcing that Mr Powell had left effective from 30 April 2016.[41] Unusually he was not asked to serve out his notice period, but his departure in April 2016 did follow after the January 2016 DfE warning letter criticising the unacceptably low standards at Unity City Academy.[27]

Extracurricular life[edit]

In 2013, the Archbishop of York visited the Academy and talked about the academy's theme "Dare to Dream". He said to the pupils they should dream up what would like in the future and grasp it with both hands. The Academy has four house teams called Adventure, Discovery, Endeavour and Resolution which support different charities. A significant event to raise money for these charities is a 24-hour challenge which commenced on 28 June 2013.

The Academy has a wide range of activities in place which include learning about road safety.[42] The Academy achieved the rare distinction of gaining a 5* rating from the British Safety Council for its procedures to keep children safe.[43] In its sporting life, the Academy benefits from having Sunderland Ladies captain, Stephanie Bannon, as a PE teacher in 2014.[44] In March 2015 there was a particularly notable Oscar’s night with strong performing arts evident.[45]

Role of the sponsor[edit]

As an AET school Unity City Academy belongs to a multi-academy trust network of schools, which has been criticised by OFSTED for having low expectations and for letting down poor pupils and by the Educational Funding Agency as having poor financial controls. (For further evidence see the Academies Enterprise Trust page).

Academies Enterprise Trust support for Academies at the local level is led by the AET Regional Director of Education (known as a RDE). The 2014 OFSTED report about AET explained that "some academy leaders said that there was too much variability in the support and challenge offered by Regional Directors employed by AET."[46]

Unusually, Unity City Academy receives extra help and support from the Academies Enterprise Trust. The CEO, Ian Comfort, has directly and personally been involved in leading improvements at the Academy during its period of collapsing exam results, as a governor and trustee of Unity City Academy since 9 September 2013.[47] In the February 2014 OFSTED Section 8 inspection, OFSTED praised the governors stating, "The governing body provides effective challenge, with high levels of scrutiny of the academy’s work evident... The collaborative work of the governing body, academy leaders and the sponsor is a real strength and enables the academy to focus sharply at all times on the improvement agenda."[48] However, despite OFSTED's positive assessment, exam results continued to decline after their inspection, at 34% (2014) 26% (2015) and 19% (2016). There is surprise about how OFSTED could have concluded that, "The quality of leadership and management is good...Effective teaching allowed students to make accelerated progress, and this was notably consistent across subjects and year groups," (OFSTED 2014) when results were declining and continued to decline.

Writing in 2014, Ofsted stated with respect to the Academies Enterprise Trust that:

The sponsor works closely with the Principal to ensure that support is proportionate to need and this is well judged.[49]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Unity City Academy website. "Unity City Academy". unityacademy.org.uk. 
  2. ^ Cassidy, Sarah (13 January 2014). "City Academies 'will harm local schools'". Independent. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "OFSTED Unity City Academy". OFSTED. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  4. ^ See DfE Performance tables and "Unity City Academy in Middlesbrough 'inadequate' says Ofsted". Gazette Live. 13 May 2013. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Brown, Mike (17 September 2014). "Unity City Academy appoints new leadership team". Gazette Live. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. . See also "City academy failing says Ofsted". BBC News. 27 May 2005. Retrieved 21 March 2007.  and Matthew Taylor (19 May 2005). "Private academy produces worse results than schools it replaced". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 July 2007. 
  6. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Garner, Richard (1 April 2009). "City academy fails Ofsted inspection for a second time". Independent. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  8. ^ "Select Committee on Public Accounts 52nd Report, 2007". www.paraliament.uk. Paraliament. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  9. ^ "Unity City Academy gets best Ofsted report in a decade". Evening Gazette (Teesside). Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2007. 
  10. ^ "Ofsted Unity City Academy". Ofsted. Retrieved 21 March 2007. 
  11. ^ "Pre-Warning Notice Letter to the Directors of Unity City Academy Trust" (PDF). DfE. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  12. ^ "Names of all academies changing sponsors or chains for whatever reason". What do they Know. 27 July 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  13. ^ "Unity City Academy". School and College Performance Tables. Department for Education. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  14. ^ Dale, Sarah (5 September 2016). "Middlesbrough school sends papers back to exam board after 'disappointing' grades". Gazette Live. Archived from the original on 6 September 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  15. ^ Adams, Richard (29 January 2015). "Number of English schools failing on GCSE targets doubles in a year". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "Unity City Academy". GazetteLive. 31 July 2015. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  17. ^ "Section 8 Monitoring Report" (PDF). Ofsted. Ofsted. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  18. ^ Sampson, Lindsey (22 January 2015). "New principal for Ormesby Road's Unity City Academy drawn by 'character of pupils". GazetteLive. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  19. ^ Perin, Beverley. "Academies Enterprise Trust Board Meeting 54 (26-01-16)". Academies Enterprise Trust. Academies Enterprise Trust. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  20. ^ "East Point Academy Results". School and College Performance Tables. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  21. ^ "Unity City Academy". School and College Performance Tables. Department for Education. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  22. ^ Dale, Sarah (5 September 2016). "Middlesbrough school sends papers back to exam board after 'disappointing' grades". Gazette Live. Archived from the original on 6 September 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  23. ^ Hurrell, Alex (21 April 2016). "North Walsham High School appoints new headteacher". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  24. ^ Sampson, Lindsey (11 February 2015). "Middlesbrough a 'subject desert': Pupils unlikely to take exams that could be vital to job prospects". GazetteLive. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  25. ^ "Principal's Welcome". Unity City Academy Website. Unity City Academy. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  26. ^ Dale, Sarah (5 September 2016). "Middlesbrough school sends papers back to exam board after 'disappointing' grades". Gazette Live. Archived from the original on 6 September 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  27. ^ a b c "Pre-Warning Notice Letter to the Directors of Unity City Academy Trust" (PDF). DfE. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  28. ^ "OFSTED Unity City Academy". OFSTED. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  29. ^ Brown, Mike (14 July 2014). "Unity City Academy's longest serving and 'most successful' principal to leave at Christmas". GazetteLive. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  30. ^ Sampson, Lindsey (13 May 2013). "Unity City Academy gets best Ofsted report in a decade". GazetteLive. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  31. ^ May, Richard (22 May 2013). "The write stuff: How Unity Academy transformed its students' literacy skills". The Independent. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  32. ^ "Middlesbrough Academy Welcomes The Archbishop of York". Archbishop of York 23 September 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  33. ^ "TES Hire Wire". TES. TES. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  34. ^ Brown, Mike (17 September 2014). "Unity City Academy appoints new leadership team". GazetteLive. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  35. ^ Lindsey Sampson (22 January 2015). "New principal for Ormesby Road's Unity City Academy drawn by 'character of pupils'". gazettelive. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. 
  36. ^ "East Point Academy Results". School and College Performance Tables. Department for Education. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  37. ^ "Parent Newsletter 19th September 2014.pdf". google.com. [dead link]
  38. ^ Caroll, Anthony (26 September 2014). "Lowestoft academy head teacher: I'll quit over school trust row". The Lowestoft Journal. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  39. ^ Hurrell, Alex (21 April 2016). "North Walsham High School appoints new headteacher". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  40. ^ "North Walsham High School Appoints New Head Teacher". North Walsham High School. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  41. ^ "Letter from Fr Adam Gaunt – Chair of the Board of Trustees" (PDF). Unity City Academy. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  42. ^ Brown, Mike (20 November 2014). "Interactive workshops teaching youngsters road safety at Unity City Academy". GazetteLive. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  43. ^ Blackburne, Elaine (7 August 2014). "News Unity City Academy Middlesbrough-based Unity City Academy recognised for high standards in ensuring student safety". GazetteLive. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  44. ^ Carter, Ryan (25 April 2015). "Sunderland ladies captain on why being a PE teacher is better than football". GazetteLive. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  45. ^ Sampson, LIndsey (5 March 2015). "Middlesbrough students stage an Oscar-worth performance". GazetteLive. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  46. ^ "Inspections of academies within the Academies Enterprise Trust, a MultiAcademy Trust" (PDF). Gov.Uk. Department for Education. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  47. ^ "Unity City Academy Trustees". Unity City Academy. Academies Enterprise Trust. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  48. ^ "OFSTED Unity City Academy". OFSTED. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  49. ^ "Section 8 Monitoring Report" (PDF). Ofsted. Retrieved 27 November 2015.