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Haxby Road school now the best it has ever been

The benefits of becoming an academy have been highlighted by school inspectors who have awarded a “Good” rating to Haxby Road Primary Academy

When it was Haxby Road Primary School, it was never rated as highly in its 113-year history and for the last decade had suffered a string of poor inspection reports. Today, a relentless drive to improve outcomes for pupils has been praised by Ofsted for the “exciting learning” taking place.

Haxby Road was the first school to join Ebor Academy Trust in February 2014 and this is the first inspection since Ebor stepped in to help.

“This is excellent news for all concerned,” said Ebor’s chief executive Richard Ludlow. “All children deserve to attend a Good school. Success comes from collaboration, relentless positivity and a relentless belief that all those in the school can succeed.”

Headteacher Zoe Lightfoot said: “The staff, governors, parents and children are all delighted with our inspection outcome.  It is great to see that Ofsted have acknowledged the drive and dedication within our Haxby Road family, to raise standards and aspirations for our children. We are very pleased that our school community has been officially recognised as being as great as we know it is and I feel very proud to lead such a focused and passionate team.”

Inspectors said the shared vision of all leaders and their effective communication with the whole school community has been fundamental in steering improvements in outcomes for pupils: “There is a very strong partnership between the school and the academy trust; everyone speaks confidently about the gains this partnership has brought, particularly in terms of developing a culture of purpose and improvement.”

The work to improve partnerships with parents has also been highly effective, says the report. The determination to make sure that parents feel welcome and part of their child’s learning is paying off. Parents speak warmly about their involvement in the school and how the school supports them and their child. For example, one parent said: “Staff are always there if you need some help – for children and for parents”. The family café gives parents the opportunity to meet other parents, particularly when they are new to the school. The improved opportunities for staff and parents to work together are having a positive impact on the progress pupils are making.

Special educational needs at the school was also applauded, with effective systems in place for checking pupils’ progress. Resources, activities and the environment are supporting pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities in making at least expected progress. Home-school links are strong and celebrations in learning are shared and parents are supported in how to help their child at home, enabling pupils to make better progress.

Mr Ludlow added: “At a time when nationally the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers is widening, Haxby Road is a shining beacon of hope showing the way that gap can be diminished, so that all children achieve” he said.

School inspectors reported that: “Disadvantaged pupils make good progress throughout their time in school. A large amount of work goes into supporting the families of these pupils, such as those where there are young carers, or those facing challenging circumstances. These pupils receive additional support in lessons where needed, as well as pastoral support, access to the breakfast club and work with specific mentors.”

Haxby Road governors are passionate about their role in school improvement and have an excellent knowledge of the school’s strengths and weaknesses, says the report. They are not afraid to challenge leaders for further information they need to ensure that pupils are making the best progress they can, while acknowledging the good progress already made.

In terms of the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, Ofsted says a “wealth of new strategies to improve reading and to foster a love of books has already had a positive impact on pupils’ progress. Staff surround pupils with a vocabulary-rich environment. New books and reading materials, along with enticing activities and celebrations are helping pupils to read fluently and with understanding.”

Before Ebor became involved with the 220-pupil school, it had suffered a series of poor inspection reports dating back well over ten years.  Today Haxby Road is a “Good” school with a Tiny Steps provision for two-year-olds, as well as a nursery for three- and four-year-olds.