UK’s first NHS-sponsored school Manchester Health Academy branded ‘inadequate’ – head demands review

By Annabal Bagdi

The UK’s first NHS-sponsored health academy has launched an appeal against a damning Ofsted report after being branded ‘inadequate’.

Head teacher Damian Owen slammed claims Manchester Health Academy has serious weaknesses after failing to impress assessors during their latest Ofsted inspection.

The report, published in December, criticised the Moor Road academy for high exclusion rates, inconsistent teaching quality and lack of student progress.

Mr Owen said: “It is not a true judgement at all. The judgement is baffling to be quite honest.

“We had a very unfortunate two days where poor judgements were made of where the academy is at.

“It is not the reality of what happens in our building. You could visit and see that, with or without an appointment.”

Despite previous ratings as a grade three ‘satisfactory’ facility, the education watchdog gave the lowest ranking following lesson observations, talks with pupils and meetings with teaching staff.  

The report read: “Teachers do not always have high enough expectations of what students can achieve.

“Less able students struggle to understand what is expected of them, while the most able are insufficiently challenged,” it continued.

“Regardless of their ability or starting points, by the time they leave the academy they do not reach high enough standards, or make enough progress in a number of subjects.”

Inspectors identified discrepancies surrounding pupil premium, noting disadvantaged students eligible for the additional funding make less progress and reach lower levels of attainment than those ineligible for support.

Inspectors did however acknowledge the progress the academy had made since opening in 2009, including the effective support of sponsors and significant improvements in English and mathematics.

Mr Owen said he was hopeful the poor result would be moderated following a review.

He said: “The comments on exclusion are ridiculous. It’s writing for the sake of writing.”

Also concerned at the lack of emphasis placed on considerably reduced exclusion rates, Mr Owen said percentages had become very close to the national average and had fallen substantially since 2009.

The Wythenshawe academy receives support from lead sponsor Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT), as well as from co-sponsors Manchester City Council and Manchester College.

CMFT’s David Cain and chair of the academy’s trust said: “The Ofsted has been so disappointing but obviously what you do is you pick yourself up and get on with it.

“The sponsor CMFT is absolutely on side to help in any way we can. To go into Grade four was harsh. We will be, one day, outstanding.”

Picture courtesy of James F Clay via Flickr, with thanks

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