A new sense of self-belief as pupils learn they can achieve
STAFF, students and parents at Bristol Metropolitan Academy are celebrating a very positive report after their first visit from Ofsted inspectors.
A team from the learning watchdog said the Fishponds academy had made good progress towards raising standards since it opened in September 2009.
"A wonderful purpose-built new building, a smart new uniform and structured working day underpin the new sense of self-belief, engagement and high aspirations of students at the academy. Students value the learning opportunities they now have: they are beginning to recognise that they can achieve highly and compete with the best," the inspectors' report said.
Catch-up programmes and concerted support had helped many students make good or sometimes outstanding progress.
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Ofsted noted the rise in the proportion of students getting five or more good GCSEs from 43 to 83 per cent last year but said there was scope for further improvement in the percentage who gained at least five passes including English and maths, which rose from 29 to 39 per cent in 2010.
Lead inspector Emma Ing said in her monitoring report: "Students feel safe and well cared for at the academy. They and their parents agree that staff know them well and offer really great support when it is needed.
"The academy has very robust systems and procedures to manage student behaviour, which are consistently applied and understood by all.
"As a result, the behaviour of students has improved markedly and there is much less poor behaviour in lessons and in breaks.
"The proportion of students who are excluded from the academy has dropped considerably. Students are developing a sense of pride in their academy."
She said attendance levels among the 534 students had improved and everyone was confident that bullying was not tolerated.
She also said the academy was a very inclusive environment where different cultures were celebrated and many different languages used.
The academy in Snowdon Road has specialist languages status and the inspectors said the impact of this specialism had been very good. All students took two foreign languages in Years 7 and 8 and the academy's success in languages GCSE was well above the national average.
Ms Ing praised academy principal Steve Taylor for his highly effective work in supporting staff through the change to becoming an academy, which had created " a strong sense of teamwork and loyalty.". The academy is part of the Cabot Learning Federation, which the inspector said had offered effective support to help bring about improvements.
"The academy improvement plan is sharply focused on those things that will serve to raise standards and improve the quality of education. Parents are pleased that they have been involved in shaping the development of the academy and feel that communications between them and the academy are excellent."
The report acknowledged that the predecessor Whitefield Fishponds School had not been well regarded locally but said the academy's reputation in the community was rightly improving steadily.
Mr Taylor said the school was looking forward to welcoming about 120 11-year-olds in September, double its Year 7 intake of two years ago.
"More and more parents are realising it is worth coming to see our school for themselves."
He added: "I am delighted with Ofsted's findings. We have known for a while that we are making really good progress and it is good to have that validated by inspectors. We are looking forward to making further improvements in the coming months."