School etc

Merrill College Closed - for academy Dec. 31, 2012

see new Merrill Academy

Merrill College
Brackens Lane

phone: 01332 *** ***

headed by: Headteacher Michael Whelan


school holidays: via Derby council

Secondary — Foundation School

Education phase
Establishment type
Foundation School
Establishment #
Open date
Sept. 1, 2010
Close date
Dec. 31, 2012
Reason open
Result of Closure
Reason closed
For Academy
OSGB coordinates
Easting: 437618, Northing: 332638
GPS coordinates
Latitude: 52.89, Longitude: -1.4423
Accepting pupils
11—19 years old
Ofsted last inspection
Nov. 23, 2011
Region › Const. › Ward
East Midlands › Derby South › Boulton
Urban > 10k - less sparse
Admissions policy
Sixth form
Has a sixth form
Trust school
Is supported by a Trust
The Merrill and Derby College Partnership Trust
Learning provider ref #

rooms to rent in Derby

Schools nearby

  1. Moorhead Primary School DE240AN
  2. Merrill College DE240AN
  3. Landau Forte Academy Moorhead DE240AN (280 pupils)
  4. Merrill Academy DE240AN (890 pupils)
  5. 0.3 miles Allenpark Infant School DE249DE
  6. 0.4 miles Boulton Junior School DE240EP
  7. 0.4 miles Boulton Primary School DE240EP
  8. 0.4 miles Wyndham Primary Academy DE240EP (302 pupils)
  9. 0.5 miles Lord Street Nursery School DE249AX (100 pupils)
  10. 0.5 miles Allenton Community Primary School DE249BB (327 pupils)
  11. 0.5 miles Oakwood Junior School DE240DD (346 pupils)
  12. 0.5 miles Oakwood Infant and Nursery School DE240GZ (339 pupils)
  13. 0.5 miles Noel-Baker School DE240BR (1157 pupils)
  14. 0.5 miles Allenton Community Primary School DE249BB
  15. 0.6 miles St Martins School DE240BR (87 pupils)
  16. 0.7 miles Southgate Infant School DE248TE
  17. 0.8 miles Shelton Infant School DE249EJ (258 pupils)
  18. 0.8 miles Shelton Junior School DE249EJ (266 pupils)
  19. 0.9 miles Nightingale Junior School DE248BH
  20. 0.9 miles Osmaston Primary School DE248FH (552 pupils)
  21. 0.9 miles Alvaston Junior School DE240PU (300 pupils)
  22. 0.9 miles Alvaston Infant and Nursery School DE240PU (308 pupils)
  23. 0.9 miles Ascot College DE248NB (22 pupils)
  24. 1 mile Lakeside Community Primary School DE248UZ (548 pupils)

List of schools in Derby

Age group 11–19
Inspection date(s) 23–24 November 2011
Inspection number 382041

Merrill College

Inspection report

Unique Reference Number 136209
Local Authority Derby
Inspection number 382041
Inspection dates 23–24 November 2011
Report ing inspector Michelle Parker HMI

This inspection of the school was carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.

Type of school Secondary
School category Foundation
Age range of pupils 11–19
Gender of pupils Mixed
Gender of pupils in the sixth form Mixed
Nu mber of pupils on the school roll 992
Of which, number on roll in the sixth form 110
Appropriate authority The governing body
Chair Carol Dover OBE
Headteacher Lynn Whittaker and Geoff Wilson
Date of prev ious school inspection N/A
School address Brackens Lane
DE24 0AN
Telephone number 01332 576777
Fax number 01332 576796
Email address reveal email: enqu…


This inspection was carried out by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and four
additional inspectors. Inspectors visited 30 lessons and 30 teachers were observed.
Meetings were held with parents and carers, groups of students, the Chair and
members of the Governing Body and staff and representatives from the local
authority. Inspectors observed the school’s work, looked at whole-school
development planning, teachers’ planning and school policies. In total,
questionnaires returned by 169 parents and carers were analysed. The team also
analysed 45 staff questionnaires and responses from 250 students.

The inspection team reviewed many aspects of the school’s work. It looked in detail

at a number of key areas.

  • Inspectors examined the achievement of groups of students, especially girls
    compared with boys, those known to be eligible for free school meals and those
    with special educational needs and/or disabilities, to determine whether
    teaching is sufficiently challenging.
  • The team assessed how well leaders and managers have addressed the serious
    issues of poor behaviour and attendance.
  • The team also examined the effectiveness of the new senior leadership team to
    assess if they have acted with sufficient urgency to improve achievement,
    teaching and learning throughout the school.

Information about the school

The school was re-opened in September 2010 in partnership with Derby College. It
has a new leadership team and a new governing body. It is an average-sized mixed
comprehensive school. The large majority of students are White British. The
proportion of students from minority ethnic backgrounds is broadly average. The
proportion of students who speak English as an additional language is above average
and increasing. The proportion of students identified as having special educational
needs and/or disabilities is well above average, as is the percentage known to be
eligible for free school meals.

Inspection judgements

Overall effectiveness: how good is the school? 3
The school’s capacity for sustained improvement 2

Main findings

This is a satisfactory and rapidly improving school. Many aspects of the school’s work
are now good and safeguarding procedures are outstanding. The school has an
accurate view of its strengths and weaknesses and uses this information to transform

students’ learning. The two co-principals provide outstanding leadership and work

effectively together. The new senior leadership team understand their role in
bringing about improvements and work consistently to ensure the school continues
to move forward. The new governing body uses its wide range of expertise to quickly

‘get up to speed’ in its understanding of the school and effectively holds the school to

account. Consequently, the school has a good capacity to sustain improvements
since the former school had been previously identified as failing to give an acceptable
level of education. Leaders and managers at all levels have successfully addressed
these weaknesses.
The school has been highly successful in tackling the two serious weaknesses from
the former organisation, those of behaviour and attendance. Students now feel safe
in school because staff are vigorous in addressing any incidents of poor behaviour. In
addition, the good staff presence around school ensures that opportunities for
bullying or inappropriate behaviour are rare. The strong stand taken by the school on

‘gang behaviour’ has been successful and has begun to have a positive impact in the

local community. The school has also implemented rigorous systems to address

students’ low attendance and, consequently, attendance is now in line with the

national average for secondary schools. Students want to come to school and
increasingly enjoy their learning. Students reported that teachers ‘egg them on’ to do
better. Despite these improvements, attainment remains low for all groups of
students. Examination results in English and mathematics improved last year. This is
because interventions are well planned and the quality of teaching has improved. As
a result, all groups of students make at least satisfactory progress. In lessons where
the teaching is satisfactory, opportunities are missed to accurately match learning to

students’ needs so that higher levels are achieved. Assessment procedures are not

consistently developed across the school and opportunities are missed to promote
good progression. Communication with parents and carers has improved and the
school is working successfully to encourage parents and carers to come into school.
Parents and carers stated that they now feel the school is listening to them and is
working with them in supporting their child’s education.

Up to 40% of the schools whose overall effectiveness is judged satisfactory may
receive a monitoring visit by an Ofsted inspector before their next section 5

What does the school need to do to improve further?

  • Ensure that students’ achievement and attainment in English, mathematics and
    science are improved so that they are in line with or exceed national averages
    better matching activities in lessons to students’ needs and interests
    ensuring classroom assessment procedures promote good progression for
    all students.
    Attainment at the end of Key Stage 4 is low. However, attainment in English and
    mathematics is quickly improving and all students know their targets for
    improvement. This is because teachers understand students’ prior learning and build
    upon this satisfactorily. Teachers use assessment information satisfactorily to monitor
    students’ progress. As a result, in the lessons observed, all groups of students,
    including girls and those known to be eligible for free school meals, make similar
    progress to other groups. The school sets challenging targets for every student and
    these are used to ensure that all steadily improve. Students are confident in
    accurately assessing their own progress and are aware of how to improve their work.
    This was seen in the lessons observed. Students’ achievements are regularly
    celebrated, with frequent calls and letters home to parents and carers. This positive
    culture of celebrating success has increased students’ enjoyment and confidence in
    learning. It has also contributed to the improved attendance.
    Rigorous systems track students’ progress. School data indicate that students with
    special educational needs and/or disabilities make similar progress to all other
    groups. In addition, those students identified at ‘school action plus’ level of support
    make significantly better progress than other groups. This is because the quality of
    support received by students has improved. The school quickly identifies students at
    risk of exclusion and uses a wide range of strategies to keep them in school. This
    positive attitude to learning was reflected in all the lessons observed and contributed
    to all students’ making at least satisfactory progress. A caring and sensitive approach
    by staff has helped students understand their own behaviour. The school has
    successfully created a culture of self-awareness and self-discipline and this has had a
    considerable impact in changing the school into a safe and calm learning
    Robust attendance systems ensure that families are contacted not only on the first
    day of absence, but on every succeeding day until the student returns to school.
    Positive messages about good attendance are constantly reinforced. For example,
    this was clearly seen in an assembly in which students were shown the impact of
    poor attendance on their performance.
    The school promotes the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of all
    students to a good standard. For example, students were asked to consider the
    moral implications of different behaviours. In ‘circle time’, where students sit in a
    circle to discuss issues and concerns, students are encouraged and supported to
    reflect and listen to others and respect different views.
Outcomes for individuals and groups of pupils 3

These are the grades for pupils’ outcomes

Pupils’ achieveme nt and the extent to which they enjoy their learning
Taking into account:
Pupils’ attainment
The quality of pupils’ learning and their progress
The quality of learning for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities
and their progress



The extent to which pupils feel safe 2
Pupils’ behaviour 2
The extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifesty les 3
The extent to which pupils contribute to the school and wider community 3
The extent to which pupils develop workplace and other skills that will
contribute to their future economic well-being
Taking into account:
Pupils’ attendance


The extent of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development 2

How effective is the provision?

Teaching is satisfactory, with an increasing amount that is good or better. Teachers
are confident that any possible disruptions to learning are swiftly ‘nipped in the bud’
because of the effective use of the on-call system. Teachers’ planning accurately
reflects the levels at which students are working. In lessons, teachers question
students’ understanding satisfactorily. However, they do not always sufficiently
address students’ misunderstandings to ensure that the pace of learning continues to
improve. In good lessons observed, teachers used assessment information to

develop students’ understanding and secure good progress. Students enjoy working

in pairs and groups. In good lessons, teachers skilfully judge the pace of learning so
that students are able to spend more time concentrating and thus work far more
productively. The school has been able to capitalise on this improvement by


The grades for attainment and attendance are: 1 is high; 2 is above average; 3 is broadly average;

and 4 is low

extending the length of lessons and providing students with more complex and

demanding learning activities. The ‘deep learning’ days are good opportunities to

broaden learning and these capture students’ interests well.
The curriculum is well matched to students’ interests and promotes opportunities for
further education or training. The development of a wide range of courses reflects

well students’ interests and has encouraged good participation and contributed

strongly to students’ improved enjoyment of their learning. This has been facilitated
by strong partnership working with another local school and Derby College.
Care, guidance and support for all students are at the heart of the school’s
improvements and ethos. For example, the school listens carefully to students’ views
and understands them well; thus the school is able to effectively help them to
develop and mature. The school takes account of students’ views of learning and
readily adapts its practices to reflect these more closely.

These are the grades for the quality of provision

The quality of teaching
Taking into account:
The use of assessment to support learning


The extent to which the curriculum meets pupils’ needs, including, where
relevant, through partnerships
The effectiveness of care, guidance and support 2

How effective are leadership and management?

The co-principals and senior leaders, together with middle managers, have
galvanised the enthusiasm of the staff and restored their self-confidence.
Consequently, teaching and learning is improving. Leaders routinely make good use
of rigorous systems of monitoring to challenge all staff to do their best. They have an

accurate view of strengths and use the school’s good practice to support

improvements. Targets are realistic and challenging. Staff are unequivocal in their
support of the senior leadership team.
Governance is good. The governing body works closely with staff to actively
challenge and raise aspirations as well as promoting the school effectively in the local
community. The significant improvements in safeguarding exemplify both the

school’s strong partnerships and its proactive approach in holding other agencies

effectively to account: for example, there is greater sharing of information in multi-
agency meetings, thus ensuring the highest standards in maintaining students’
safety. The school works assiduously to ensure the most vulnerable students and
families receive swift help and support through its highly effective partnership
working. The school has collated helpful information on different groups of students
and is effective in ensuring equal opportunities for those with specific needs and in
preventing discrimination. For example, this is seen to great effect in the speedy way

in which the school has successfully tackled the difference in the relative
performance of boys and girls so that girls now make similar progress to boys.
The promotion of community cohesion is a strength. This is particularly well
illustrated in the significant impact that the school has had on its local community.
Senior leaders and the governing body have a good understanding of the school’s
context and have identified the need to influence the culture outside the school as
well as within. The school is keenly aware of the pressures on the local community
and works effectively with partners to tackle these issues. For example, working with
Derby County Football Club provides sporting opportunities for local youngsters; this
is appreciated by parents and carers, who are concerned about children’s safety
playing in parks. The school has a detailed programme of working, both nationally
and internationally, especially in developing opportunities for students to use their
skills in modern foreign languages.

These are the grades for leadership and management

The effectiveness of leadership and management in embedding ambit ion and
driv ing improveme nt
Taking into account:
The leadership and management of teaching and learning


The effectiveness of the governing body in challenging and support ing the
school so that weaknesses are tackled decisively and statutory responsibilities
The effectiveness of the school’s engagement with parents and carers 2
The effectiveness of partnerships in promoting learning and well-being 2
The effectiveness with which the school promotes equality of opportunity and
tackles discrimination
The effectiveness of safeguarding procedures 1
The effectiveness with which the school promotes community cohesion 2
The effectiveness with which the school deploys resources to achieve value for

Sixth form

The attainment of students in the sixth form is low but they make satisfactory
progress in their learning. Access to the sixth form is open to all students regardless
of their prior attainment. The curriculum is constructed to closely reflect the prior
learning of students and their future aspirations. Links with students’ previous Level
2 qualifications provide opportunities for students to retake before embarking on the
next level. As a result, students are well supported in improving their qualifications.
The quality of teaching is good and some is outstanding, but this has not had time to
be reflected in external examinations. Students have opportunities for independent

study and generally engage positively in their lessons. However, students report that
it can sometimes be difficult to get access to a computer when they want to work on
tasks or assignments independently. Advice and guidance for students with regard to
their progress and career options are good. Students reported they would like more
information about options other than progression to higher education.
The head of sixth form has a satisfactory understanding of the strengths and
weaknesses of provision and the actions needed to improve and sustain students’
experience and their attainment.

These are the grades for the sixth form

Overall effectiveness of the sixth form
Taking into account:
Outcomes for students in the sixth form
The quality of provision in the sixth form
Leadership and management of the sixth form



Views of parents and carers

Most parents and carers who responded to the questionnaire, and those who spoke
to inspectors, are confident that their child is safe in school. A few parents remain

concerned about their child’s safety in school. Overall, parents and carers have a

positive view of the school and are encouraged to talk to the school about their
concerns. Parents and carers who spoke to the inspection team commented
favourably on the positive impact of the co-principals and the changes in the school’s
ethos. They said that contact with the school had improved and they were provided
with better quality information about how their child is getting on. However, several
of those who returned questionnaires expressed reservations about communication
and about leadership and management. Parents and carers expressed a number of
individual concerns about behaviour, bullying, the amount of homework, the colour
of the school uniform and the number of lessons taught by supply staff. Inspectors
thoroughly investigated all parental concerns. They are able to confirm that the
school has acted upon concerns raised by parents, carers or students and followed
them up assiduously. The school takes parents’ and carers’ views seriously and
adapts its work to reflect this.

Responses from parents and carers to Ofsted’s questionnaire

Ofsted invited all the registered parents and carers of pupils registered at Merrill College to complete a
questionnaire about their views of the school.
In the questionnaire, parents and carers were asked to record how strongly they agreed with 13
statements about the school.
The inspection team received 169 completed questionnaires by the end of the on-site inspection. In
total, there are 992 pupils registered at the school.
The table above summarises the responses that parents and carers made to each statement. The
percentages indicate the proportion of parents and carers giving that response out of the total numbe r
of completed questionnaires. Where one or more parents and carers chose not to answer a particular
question, the percentages will not add up to 100%.

Statements Strongly
Agree Disagree disagree
Total % Total % Total % Total %
My child enjoys school 44 26 105 62 16 9 4 2
The school keeps my child
46 27 110 65 10 6 3 2
The school informs me about
my child’s progress
44 26 98 58 23 14 4 2
My child is making enough
progress at this school
36 21 102 60 21 12 7 4
The teaching is good at this
35 21 100 59 22 13 6 4
The school helps me to
support my child’s learning
27 16 91 54 36 21 8 5
The school helps my child to
have a healthy lifestyle
31 18 91 54 37 22 3 2
The school makes sure that
my child is well prepared for
the future (for example
changing year group,
changing school, and for
children who are finishing
school, entering further or
higher education, or entering
40 24 85 50 23 14 5 3
The school meets my child’s
particular needs
33 20 99 59 23 14 9 5
The school deals effectively
with unacceptable behaviour
39 23 88 52 25 15 11 7
The school takes account of
my suggestions and
27 16 88 52 32 19 13 8
The school is led and
managed effectively
31 18 103 61 24 14 5 3
Overall, I am happy with my
child’s experience at this
40 24 98 58 23 14 5 3


What inspection judgements mean

Grade Judgement Description
Grade 1 Outstanding These features are highly effective. An outstanding
school provides exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs.
Grade 2 Good These are very positive features of a school. A school
that is good is serving its pupils well.
Grade 3 Satisfactory These features are of reasonable quality. A satisfactory
school is providing adequately for its pupils.
Grade 4 Inadequate These features are not of an acceptable standard. An
inadequate school needs to make significant
improvement in order to meet the needs of its pupils.
Ofsted inspectors will make further visits until it

Overall effectiveness of schools

Overall effectiveness judgement (percentage of schools)
Type of school Outstanding Good Satisfactory Inadequate
Nursery schools 43 47 10 0
Primary schools 6 46 42 6
14 36 41 9
Sixth forms 15 42 41 3
Special schools 30 48 19 3
Pupil referral
14 50 31 5
All schools 10 44 39 6

New school inspection arrangements were introduced on 1 September 2009. This means that
inspectors now make some additional judgements that were not made previously.
The data in the table above are for the period 1 September 2010 to 08 April 2011 and are consistent
with the latest published official statistics about maintained school inspection outcomes (see
The sample of schools inspected during 2010/11 was not representative of all schools nationally, as
weaker schools are inspected more frequently than good or outstandi ng schools.
Percentages are rounded and do not always add exactly to 100.
Sixth form figures reflect the judgements made for the overall effectiveness of the sixth form in

secondary schools, special schools and pupil referral units.

Common terminology used by inspectors

Achievement: the progress and success of a pupil in their

learning, development or training.

Attainment: the standard of the pupils’ work shown by test and

examination results and in lessons.

Capacity to improve: the proven ability of the school to continue

improving. Inspectors base this judgement on what
the school has accomplished so far and on the
quality of its systems to maintain improvement.

Leadership and management: the contribution of all the staff with responsibilities,

not just the headteacher, to identifying priorities,
directing and motivating staff and running the

Learning: how well pupils acquire knowledge, develop their

understanding, learn and practise skills and are
developing their competence as learners.

Overall effectiveness: inspectors form a judgement on a school’s overall

effectiveness based on the findings from their
inspection of the school. The following judgements,
in particular, influence what the overall
effectiveness judgement will be.

  • The school’s capacity for sustained
  • Outcomes for individuals and groups of
  • The quality of teaching.
  • The extent to which the curriculum meets
    pupils’ needs, including, where relevant,
    through partnerships.
  • The effectiveness of care, guidance and

Progress: the rate at which pupils are learning in lessons and

over longer periods of time. It is often measured

by comparing the pupils’ attainment at the end of a

key stage with their attainment when they started.

25 November 2011
Dear Students

Inspection of Merrill College, Derby, DE24 0AN

Thank you for the warm and friendly welcome you gave to the inspection team. We
appreciated the insights you gave us on your school. We were very impressed by
your mature and thoughtful comments which helped us gain a clearer view of your
We were very impressed by the speed at which the staff have brought about
improvements in your education. As a result, the school is satisfactory with many
good features. Safeguarding is outstanding. This is because of the outstanding work
of the two co-principals, together with all the staff who have worked with
determination to make the school a safe place for you to learn. Behaviour has
improved and you told us how your change in attitude, with regard to bullying and
fighting, has helped to bring about these improvements. Your attendance has
improved and you are aware of the need for good attendance to improve your
learning and achieve well. Teaching and learning is now satisfactory. We have asked
the school to:

  • ensure that your achievement and attainment in English, mathematics and
    science are improved so that you are in line with or exceed national standards
    better matching activities to students’ needs and interests
    ensuring classroom assessment promotes good progression for all

The sixth form has improved. Teaching is at least good and the curriculum offers you
opportunities to gain higher qualifications and build on your success in Key Stage 4.
We wish you all well in your studies and the next stage of your lives.
Yours sincerely
Michelle Parker
Her Majesty's Inspector


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