Please see the link below to view our OFSTED report
Feedback from Grove Academy Ofsted Monitoring Visit - April 2023
Grove Academy were pleased to welcome a team of Ofsted Inspectors onsite for a monitoring visit in April. Staff were proud to demonstrate the many areas of progress that the school has made during this time.
We are pleased to share with you some of the wonderful observations that His Majesty’s Inspector Linda Culling and her team observed during their recent visit to Grove Academy:
You have rightly prioritised improving pupils’ behaviour and attitudes. Leaders’ relentless focus on behaviour management, as part of carefully planned continuing professional development, is supporting improvement. Leaders’ clear expectations underpin pupils’ understanding of how to conduct themselves in lessons and during social times. As a result, the majority of lessons are calm and purposeful.
Transitions between lessons are well managed. Staff are highly visible and this helps pupils to behave well. When pupils do not rise to leaders’ expectations, there are clear, systematic and appropriate responses.
Leaders’ responses to bullying or misdemeanours are proportionate and robust where necessary.
You have strengthened the safeguarding team and increased capacity by bringing in expertise and arranging specialist training. Safeguarding is now effective. Staff and pupils know that safeguarding is a high priority. The safeguarding team are very visible around the school and this helps pupils to feel safe. All pupils spoken to have a named adult who they can go to if they are worried or concerned. Record keeping is comprehensive and detailed.
The new structure of the school day, beginning each morning with a purposeful tutor time, is used effectively. The ‘Staying safe at Grove and beyond’ programme underpins this, where pupils learn how to stay safe online and in the community.
Leadership and Management
Since the previous inspection, there have been many positive changes to staffing. There has been an increase in capacity and experience in the senior leadership team. You have worked in collaboration with local schools to further develop systems and processes and this is having impact.
Members of the IEB (Governing Body) are providing strong governance and oversight. They have an accurate view of the school and regularly visit to challenge and support leaders.
You commissioned a safeguarding review after your previous inspection and acted swiftly on its recommendations. You have also commissioned external consultants to gain objective and impartial views about the school’s effectiveness. You continue to be outward looking and collaborative in your approach to school improvement.
You have continued to focus on your aims, values and ethos to provide an ambitious and inclusive education for all. Your succinct vision, ‘The Grove 5’, underpins curriculum development and is a helpful focus for staff and pupils. Leaders have an accurate view of the relative strengths of curriculum implementation.
In the primary phase, teachers adapt the curriculum for pupils with SEND skilfully.
Leaders have skilfully improved personal development provision, including what is taught through the curriculum. A coherent programme of personal, social and health education, delivered in tutor time, assemblies and discrete lessons, has a much stronger focus on issues that pupils may encounter in the future.
During the visit, Inspectors noted the challenges that the school had faced prior to last year’s inspection, including remote learning, split sites and a change of location. The school is proud to have worked closely with our community and partner schools and have received some really positive feedback following our recent monitoring visit.
The purpose of a monitoring visit is to gauge the progress that a school has made since inspection and it is evident that Grove has made significant progress. This can only be achieved working in partnership with our parents and carers and so I extend my thanks to you for reinforcing the standards we expect from our young people and for supporting the school community.
Leaders would like to thank the staff and students of Grove for their commitment to our positive journey. The school look forward to further collaborative work with the Slough and East Berkshire Multi-Academy Trust schools to support this ongoing change and look forward to Grove joining the SEBMAT trust in the new academic year.
Grove Academy continue to work with external advisors, the local authority and community schools to ensure consistent progress continues in the areas highlighted in last year’s OFSTED report. The school has taken positive steps over the course of the year since OFSTED's 2022 visit, and these milestones have been noted in reports from governors:
“The students recognised improvements, particularly with student punctuality to school and lessons, more pastoral staff, more consistent staffing and some strong support on student’s mental health and wellbeing. They also spoke positively about the resources for online bullying and how to approach that. The students felt that behaviour in most lessons was good.”
Rhodri Bryant – Governor (Behaviour and Attendance)
“The school has a number of good and some outstanding teachers delivering lessons.
The leadership structure is clear and the chain of leadership is understood by all.
Behaviour policies are now clear and progress has been recognised by students and teachers.
Progress levels will be high for some students in the lessons observed.”
Steve Bremner – Governor (Progress and Achievement)
“There was a calm and purposeful atmosphere in each classroom we visited.”
Helen Huntley – Governor (SEND)
Much of the successes that we are pleased to share this academic year are thanks to the care and dedication of the staff, which has been strengthened by key appointments at primary and secondary phase. The expanded pastoral structure - from learning mentors to leaders at secondary phase, and the team of experienced teachers and leaders at primary has had a valuable impact on progress.
The leadership team are proud to serve the Grove Academy community and work closely with partners to drive a positive culture of behaviour and learning at the academy. https://www.groveacademy.co.uk/1982/about-slt
If you have any questions about areas of progress at the school, please get in contact and members of the team will be happy to discuss this with you.
Parents and other visitors have been keen to share their praise about Grove via testimonials which are shared on our website: https://www.groveacademy.co.uk/1979/testimonials
The school is also in process of becoming a part of the Slough and East Berkshire Multi Academy Trust and are already working closely with partners from Slough and Eton, Lynch Hill Primary and Lynch Hill Enterprise Academy as well as Colnbrook and Eton Porney primary schools. Click here for more information about SEBMAT. https://www.sebmat.com/
Grove Academy has now undergone a thorough 2-day full audit with a focus on Safeguarding.
The auditor inspected the culture of safeguarding at Grove Academy and concluded that
Through a strong focus on a clear strategy regarding “Keeping Safe at Grove Academy”, and a diligent response by senior leaders the culture of safeguarding has been significantly strengthened at Grove.
As a consequence:
• Pupils feel safe and report that they are safe due to the care staff show them
• Pupils can now clearly identify trusted adults they would turn to if they had a concern
• Staff are secure when using the systems and processes established by the school regarding safeguarding
The Inspector spoke to school leaders, staff and students and is assured that “the school leadership is committed to systems and structures that not only enable pupils and the school community to ‘do well’ but also to ‘be well’ and safe.”
School leaders are committed to this vision and are keen to continue this work.
As referenced in the report from the Inspectors, this improvement has been due to:
1. Implementing the agreed post inspection action plan and by addressing the key issues identified.
2. Culture changes driven by:
• Regular and effective staff training and induction for new staff.
• A well-structured PSHE programme.
• The integrated approach of the ‘Keeping children safe at Grove Academy’ programme including assemblies, student forums and work in tutor time.
• The work of the Designated Safeguarding Team.
• Secure data and safeguarding processes.
• The ‘On Track’ strategy to support students demonstrating challenging behaviour.
The school are grateful to auditor Ralph Batten, for undertaking this thorough review.
Ralph is an experienced auditor who was Assistant Director of Inspections where he had responsibility for the Ofsted Inspection Workforce, ensuring new inspectors were trained and accredited, as well as overall responsibility for some 1300 Ofsted inspectors' professional development.
School staff will continue to work hard to ensure high standards for all Grove students and are pleased to receive the content of this report.
You will be aware that we have made a raft of wonderful appointments across Primary and Secondary phase and I look forward to welcoming these passionate and professional practitioners to the Grove community. These appointments will strengthen our revised pastoral and curriculum structure across the school to embed much of the hard work which has already taken place to improve systems and processes across the academy.
We have also worked closely with the SASH Education Trust to engage in an external safeguarding audit and I am please to share the below headline findings with you from the external auditor, a former Lead Ofsted inspector.
The school leadership, with the support of the staff within the school and help from external agencies, has done much to address all the concerns raised by Ofsted and can now show, under the incisive leadership of the Headteacher, both the capacity and the tenacity to sustain these improvements and implement any rapid changes still needed.
The report also highlights other key points such as:
- A clear action plan to address the issues raised by Ofsted that sets out 8 key ambitions that are ‘milestoned’ and robustly evaluated for both completion and impact against an ambitious time frame
- A clear strategic direction being established by the senior leadership that clarifies both roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders and firmly places pupils best interests at its core
- The roles and responsibilities of an expanded , well trained and competent safeguarding team being both established and well publicised
- The implementation of daily ‘tutor times’ which focus on key issues of well being, personal development and safeguarding and ensure all pupils have access to support at the start of every day and are well prepared for learning. However pupils were very concerned that some tutors deliverd these sessions more appropriately than other.
- Pupils being clear as to who are ‘trusted adults’ in the school
- The PSHE and RSHE curriculum being evaluated and revised to ensure specific safeguarding issues are appropriately addressed in an age related way
- Behaviour management being reported by pupils as being improved in the past six months and causing them less concern.
Grove Academy was recognised as being early in establishing itself in its new premises following the interruptions to education from COVID 19. We have been able to operate on our new site as a whole school without COVID 19 restrictions for a term and a half, where much school development work has taken place.
We have a lot of positives to build on and we continue to develop and grow our practice.
In the recent inspection, the school was judged at this point to be inadequate although the inspectors clearly recognised the strengths of our school. Not all the observations made by the Ofsted inspection team can be recorded in the report, but some of the key points to note include:
- Children make a really strong start at Grove Academy in Reception. Staff are ambitious for the children and establish strong routines where learning is embedded.
- The Early Years Foundation Stage team have reaped rewards from engaging with the new framework as early adopters and as a result the curriculum meets childrens’ needs well.
- At primary, there is a purposeful atmosphere throughout.
- There is a clear love of reading, which is particularly evident at primary.
- The all-through curriculum is in the process of being developed, with particular strengths in science and maths.
- In science, the curriculum is closely matched to the national curriculum. Lessons are fun and give students the opportunity to think and explore, particularly at primary, where subject specific vocabulary is grown through topic areas.
- Students articulated a love for art, science and maths.
- Children with Special Educational Needs are identified quickly and appropriate support is put in place. As noted in the report ‘Needs are identified carefully, with applications for education, health and care plans made to secure additional support for pupils who have more complex requirements.’
- There is a bespoke PSHE offer which is becoming embedded and adjusted in line with student voice in the wider curriculum.
- Student leadership is displayed through student parliament and enrichment activities. A variety of clubs take place regularly.
- Middle leaders are passionate and are nurtured by senior leaders. Staff are clear and resolute about their commitment to the school’s aims.
Staff and governors at Grove Academy remain dedicated to supporting students to be ready for learning, respectful to their community and to keep themselves safe. Many areas raised in the report are already a key focus for improvement, as noted by the senior team in discussions with the Ofsted team and work is already well underway to addressing concerns.
During the inspection, your children were fantastic ambassadors for the school. They truly are incredible young people and we are really proud of them. We continue to welcome feedback from our community and want to work in collaboration with our parents and carers to ensure standards are high and that all students receive a good education.
Finally, I would like to thank the staff team for their commitment to providing the best education for the children of Grove Academy through these extraordinary times. I am extremely proud to be leading a team of such passionate and caring staff, who go the extra mile every day and will continue to do so until we fully achieve our aims.
We hope that you feel reassured by the positive aspects highlighted above, the actions the leadership team have already taken and our plans to address the areas that need to improve. If you have questions related to the inspection report or would like to give us your feedback relating to the report, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Work is underway to continue to develop the ‘all-through curriculum’. Senior leaders have planned visits through the Confederation of Schools Trust All Through Schools Network to capitalise on best practice and integrate this into our developing Grove curriculum.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
Whilst SEND needs are identified quickly and time is taken to get to know the needs of students with SEND, our next step is to make sure that all staff are able to adapt their teaching and have the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the needs of each and every student.
Staff will work to fully implement the personal development curriculum that has been designed, seeking the feedback of students and monitoring and supporting provision to ensure high quality consistency. Leaders will work to ensure that staff have the expertise they need to support students with their understanding of life in modern Britain.
Recruitment is already underway to expand the safeguarding team to build capacity and develop the structure of the team to meet the needs of our school community. Regular external reviews, shared with governors and trustees, will ensure that safeguarding consistently meets our expectations and keeps all children safe at school.
We recognise that the impact of unplanned absence of key leadership in this area has resulted in behaviour not being of the standard that we expect and this had already been identified by senior leaders and governors. Governors and trustees have committed to create capacity; expanding the pastoral team and collaborating with partner schools to address the identified concerns. Behaviour assemblies and clear messaging to our student body is in place to reinforce our expectation of standards. We are keen to collaborate with our parents, requesting that they work closely with us to make expectations clear. The school will review the behaviour system in place, including sanctions, as appropriate. We are also pleased to welcome Mr Burrows, who will join the senior leadership team as a consultant for this term. Mr Burrows has extensive experience in local Slough schools and shares the Grove vision.
Mr Shepherd will also be shortly joining the senior team as Assistant Principal and will work closely with the existing team to raise standards.