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One of our schools celebrates its journey from broken to brilliant

First published on: 12th June 2024

One of our schools has gone from “broken to brilliant” and been praised in a recent Ofsted report for being Good in every area.

Bishop Young Church of England Academy, in Seacroft, Leeds, was rated as Inadequate in 2017 when the school first joined the Abbey Multi Academy Trust – with the then National Schools Commissioner ranking Bishop Young as one of the schools causing the most concerns in the country.

Fast forward seven years, and Ofsted has now found the school (visited recently by Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell and Bishop of Kirkstall, Arun Arora) has “high expectations”, students can access “a richer, more ambitious curriculum” and there is an “inclusive and accepting environment” that helps to “raise pupils’ aspirations of what they can achieve”.

Rachael Cole, Bishop Young’s Head of School, said: “This is one of those milestone moments that our community should really celebrate.

“The progress that we have made is not based on quick, but unsustainable, wins. Over the last seven years, pretty much every element of our school has seen change, evolution and progress. From setting new standards, to creating our Bishop Character Curriculum and completely redesigning our enrichment offer for our students – Bishop Young is unrecognisable from what it once was.

“The fact that it has been the best part of a generation since our school was last graded as Good really does speak volumes for the changes that needed to be made.

 “That is why it is important that we stop and reflect on this achievement. There is much in the report that is a cause for celebration – and it is right that, after years of hard work and dedication by every member of our community, that we acknowledge what has been achieved.”

The report also notes that students “produce work of a high standard”, staff have access “to high-quality training”, there are “effective systems” for children with additional needs and they “are well supported” and that “bullying of all kinds is rare.”

Paul Cooper, the Trust's Executive Principal for Secondaries, added: “In the face of all the positives in the report, the comment that we are actually most proud of didn’t actually come from an Ofsted inspector. As the report notes, one of our young people told the inspection team that our school is ‘united’.

“When you consider that it wasn’t a huge length of time ago that the culture of this school was broken, that one word sums up how we have managed to make the changes that we have. We are working together as one.

“Our staff should be praised for how they have embraced every development opportunity and for their tireless dedication. Our fantastic families are increasingly working alongside our school and, above all else, our brilliant students are rising to the expectations we are setting and grasping the opportunities that are being created.

“It really is a journey from broken to brilliant – and I am so proud to be part of this community.”

Diocesan Director of Education, Simone Bennett added her congratulations: “Success like this comes from skill and commitment, but also from a huge amount of hard work. Well done everyone!”

Alongside the positive comments in the report, Inspectors also found that the school needs to continue to address student attendance rates and further explore how it evaluates school improvement strategies to support further progress.

The school joined the Abbey Multi Academy Trust in 2017. The Trust’s Co-CEOs, Catherine Garrett and Helen Pratten, added that:

“We all remember the challenge that we took on seven years ago. It has been tough, but supporting this school has been a real privilege – and delivering on the promises that we made to this community back in 2017 has been something that has never been far from our minds.

“That is why it is right that we all take a moment to celebrate this fantastic achievement – but it is also important to recognise that our work doesn’t stop here. 

“This judgement is the start of the next chapter, not the end of the story. We are already working on the areas for development that have been identified, and we will be using this report as the platform to continue on the hugely positive trajectory that we are on.

“I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Bishop Young CE Academy. It truly is a very exciting time for this school.”

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