Ofsted praise for improving Dixons Unity Academy

dixons unity academy
Dixons Unity Academy.

By John Baron

Ofsted inspectors have praised the progress made at improving Dixons Unity Academy in Armley during the past few months.

The school, based Whingate Road, was judged to have serious weaknesses following an inspection in March 2023, which said the school was ‘inadequate’ overall. But a second monitoring inspection published today said the school is making progress, and praised leaders and staff for taking ‘purposeful action’ to improve the school.

The inspection concluded: “Leaders have made progress to improve the school, but more work is necessary for the school to be no longer judged as having serious weaknesses.”

The inspector said: “Since the previous monitoring inspection, leaders have continued to build the capacity for improvement. An assistant vice-principal has been appointed to lead the school’s on-site alternative provision, ‘Connect’. Further changes have been made to the organisation of the pastoral team, to bring inclusion, attendance and support for the most vulnerable pupils closer together.

“You, in partnership with colleagues from the trust, have continued to review and refine the school improvement process. Pupils and staff are beginning to feel the impact of the changes that are being made. Pupils feel that there is a renewed focus on learning in classrooms. In lessons visited, there was little sign of disruption to learning. Staff value the focus on professional development and school improvement.”

Further steps to enhance pupils’ personal development have also been made.

The inspection warns that poor attendance remains one of the most significant barriers to the improvement process.

The report adds: “You and your team are taking significant action to improve attendance. Tutors, pastoral staff and the attendance team are working ever closer together on whole-school attendance strategies.

“The number of home visits to address absence has risen to over 300. Your team now uses a minibus to make home visits each morning to target those most at risk. While overall rates of absence have not fallen, there have been marked improvements for specific groups. Pupils with SEND and disadvantaged pupils are attending more regularly than before.”

Pupils at the school feel behaviour is improving, and the report concludes: “You are building closer links with the community. The school is becoming a hub for a range of support services. You are receiving increasingly positive responses from parents and carers.

“The staff I talked to conveyed a sense of optimism. They value opportunities for professional development during the school day and the signs of emerging improvement in the school.”

Ofsted’s latest monitoring visit can be read in full here.

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