School etc

Sycamore Academy

Sycamore Academy
Abbotsford Drive
St Ann's

phone: 0115 9155804

head teacher: Mr Paul Worley


school holidays: via Nottingham council

299 pupils aged 2—10y mixed gender
210 pupils capacity: 142% full

170 boys 56%

≤ 294a114b104c105y286y177y178y139y1710y20

130 girls 43%

≤ 2104a64b94c125y166y137y128y159y1110y9

Last updated: June 24, 2014

Primary — Academy Converter

Education phase
Establishment type
Academy Converter
Establishment #
Open date
Jan. 1, 2012
Reason open
Academy Converter
OSGB coordinates
Easting: 457794, Northing: 340958
GPS coordinates
Latitude: 52.963, Longitude: -1.141
Accepting pupils
3—11 years old
Census date
Jan. 16, 2014
Region › Const. › Ward
East Midlands › Nottingham East › St Ann's
Urban > 10k - less sparse
Free school meals %
Trust school
Is supported by a Trust
Learning provider ref #

School report

Sycamore Academy

Abbotsford Drive, St Ann's, Nottingham, NG3 4QP

Inspection dates 19–20 November 2014
Overall effectiveness This inspection: Good 2
Previous inspection: Not previously inspected
Leadership and management Good 2
Behaviour and safety of pupils Good 2
Quality of teaching Good 2
Achievement of pupils Good 2
Early years provision Good 2

Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is a good school.
It is not yet an outstanding school because

Together with senior leaders, the headteacher is
Consistently good teaching helps all groups of
Pupils make good progress in reading because of
The good attitudes and behaviour of the vast
Pupils feel safe and well looked after.
rapidly improving the quality of teaching and
raising achievement.
pupils to make good progress in English and
mathematics. As a result, standards are rising.
the effective teaching of letters and sounds
majority of pupils contribute well to the academy’s
calm learning atmosphere.
Disabled pupils and those who have special
Children make a good start to their academy lives in
Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural
Good use is made of the support available from
Pupils enjoy coming to the academy and attendance
educational needs make good progress because
they have well-focused individual support.
the Nursery and Reception classes.
development is promoted well. This contributes to
the marked sense of community throughout the
teaching assistants. They contribute well to the
development of pupils’ early reading skills.
has improved since 2013. They particularly benefit
from the good provision for music and physical
In a few lessons, the work that teachers set for
The expectations communicated through the
the most-able pupils is too easy.
marking of pupils’ work in some subjects are not
high enough. Pupils are not always required to
follow up advice on how they can improve their
spelling, punctuation and presentation, and learn
from their mistakes.
The attainment of particular groups of pupils,
Several governors are new to their roles and do not
including those who have difficulties in
communication and language, is often below that of
the others in English and mathematics in the early
years and Key Stage 1.
yet have the skills needed to hold leaders and
managers to account for the quality of teaching and
pupils’ achievement.

Information about this inspection

  • The inspectors observed teaching and learning in 16 lessons. Several lessons were observed jointly with
    members of the senior leadership team. Senior leaders also joined the inspectors in reviewing pupils’
    written work.
  • The inspectors observed the breakfast club and two assemblies, and made a number of short visits to
  • Pupils were observed at break and lunchtimes.
  • The inspectors held discussions with the headteacher, staff and pupils, three members of the governing
    body and two representatives of the Academy Trust.
  • Groups of pupils of different ages were heard reading.
  • The inspectors took account of the 17 responses to the staff questionnaire
  • There were insufficient responses to the Ofsted online questionnaire (Parent View) for these to inform the
  • Inspectors looked at the academy’s policies, teachers’ plans, samples of pupils’ work, academy
    improvement planning and records on behaviour and safety. Inspectors also looked at information on
    individual pupils’ progress and teachers’ performance, and records of meetings held by the governing

Inspection team

Kenneth Thomas, Lead inspector Additional Inspector
Nicola Crossley Additional Inspector
Marian Driver Additional Inspector

Full report

Information about this school

  • This is an above average size primary academy.
  • The predecessor school, Sycamore Primary School, converted to become an academy in September 2012
    and is part of the L.E.A.D Academy Trust. When the predecessor school was last inspected by Ofsted it
    was judged to be good.
  • Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage attend the Nursery for either morning or afternoon sessions
    and attend the academy full-time in the Reception Year.
  • The pupil premium provides support for almost seven in 10 pupils in the academy. This is well above the
    national average. The pupil premium is additional government funding for disadvantaged pupils who are
    known to be eligible for free school meals, and those who are looked after by the local authority.
  • Seven in 10 pupils are from a minority ethnic heritage background. This is well above the national
  • Four in ten pupils have English as an additional language. This is above the national average.
  • The proportion of disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs is close to three in ten.
    This is above average.
  • The academy is growing in size with an increasing number of pupils joining the academy at other than the
    usual times part way through the school year.
  • The academy meets the government’s current floor standards, which set the minimum expectations for
    pupils’ attainment and progress.
  • The academy provides a breakfast club that is managed by the governing body and has recently
    introduced an after-school extended learning club

What does the school need to do to improve further?

  • Further improve the quality of teaching and raise standards in English and mathematics by ensuring that:
    there is an even stronger focus on supporting particular groups of pupils, including those who have
    difficulties in language and communication in the Early Years Foundation Stage and in Key Stage 1, so
    that all pupils develop a more secure foundation for their learning in Key Stage 2.
    the most-able pupils are consistently given tasks that makes them think and work hard
    the expectations communicated through the marking of pupils’ work are consistently high in all subjects
    teachers systematically check that pupils act on the advice they are given, particularly with regards to
    spelling, punctuation and the presentation of their work.
  • Improve leadership and management by ensuring that all governors, particularly those new in post, have
    the skills needed to check how well the academy is doing so that they are more able to challenge it to

Inspection judgements

The leadership and management are good
  • The headteacher, with the support of a strong leadership team, is rapidly improving achievement and
    sustaining the good behaviour and well-being of all the academy’s pupils. All staff share a common sense
    of purpose and determination to promote equality of opportunity and tackle discrimination. They are keen
    to ensure that each individual pupil realises his or her potential.
  • Leaders have made good use of the expertise available through the Academy Trust, for example, to help
    develop teaching and learning, and to improve the reliability of teachers’ assessments. Assessment
    information is now used much more accurately to check pupils’ progress and provide extra help where
    necessary. Following the removal of National Curriculum levels, the academy is collaborating with other
    academies in the Trust to develop a common approach to assessment.
  • Action to improve reading standards is particularly successful as pupils move through the academy.
    Teachers’ sharp focus on supporting pupils’ reading has been supported by successful strategies to involve
    more parents and carers in listening to their children read at home. This is helping to raise standards.
    Leaders fully recognise that, given the challenges facing many pupils when they first enter the academy,
    they must continue to make every effort to raise younger pupils’ attainment in reading, writing and
    mathematics. They have good plans in place to make this happen.
  • Careful checks of the academy’s work enable senior leaders to identify the correct areas for improvement.
    These, linked to effective procedures for the management of teachers’ performance and good training
    opportunities, have enabled teachers to develop their skills and improved the quality of teaching. This is
    particularly the case in the teaching of phonics.
  • Teachers with subject and other leadership roles are provided with appropriate training and support.
    Through checks on the quality of teaching in their areas of responsibility ensure they play an effective part
    in the academy’s drive for improvement. This is particularly effective in English and mathematics. Good
    leadership in the Early Years Foundation Stage also ensures that children make good progress in all
    aspects of their personal development.
  • The curriculum is well planned to engage pupils’ interest and promotes achievement well. It is enhanced
    by a range of clubs and visits, including residential visits, which assist pupils’ learning and their personal
    development. Pupils have access to an excellent range of enrichment opportunities, for example, all pupils
    have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument and many play in the academy orchestra or
    sing in the academy choir.
  • A strong ethos of care and inclusion runs through the academy’s life. The acceptance of cultural and
    religious difference is central to the good promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural
    development. Pupils develop a clear sense of values and the vast majority show respect and consideration
    for others. Pupils are well prepared for life in modern Britain.
  • The additional primary school sports funding is being used well to employ specialist staff, develop
    teachers’ skills and widen the range of activities the academy offers. As a result, more pupils participate in
    physical activities regularly and there are more opportunities for competitive sport.
  • Good use is made of the substantial additional funding the academy receives through the pupil premium.
    Additional staffing and resources are used well to help meet the needs of pupils for whom this funding is
    intended, especially in literacy and numeracy. Although the academy acknowledges that more needs to be
    done, the use of this funding has already led to a narrowing of the attainment gap between these pupils
    and pupils nationally in reading, writing and mathematics.
  • The Academy Trust has provided the academy with good support, for example in developing subject
    leadership and effective approaches to assessment and systems for financial management.
  • The governance of the school:
    The governing body is very supportive and keen to ensure that the academy continues to improve.
    Governors represent and have strong links with the local community. They make sure that key values
    such as tolerance and understanding of the beliefs of others are carefully promoted. Together with the
    academy’s leaders, governors carefully check that there are appropriate procedures for keeping pupils
    safe and that all safeguarding requirements are met. They make sure that finances are managed well
    and that the primary sports funding and pupil premium funding are used for the intended purposes.
    Governors understand that teachers’ pay and promotion must be justified by the impact of their
    teaching on pupils’ progress. They receive regular reports about the strengths of teaching and what
    needs to improve and oversee the arrangements for managing the performance of teachers, including
    the headteacher. However, they are very reliant on reports from the headteacher, and some governors,
    for example those new in post, do not fully understand how best to use assessment information to
    recognise good teaching for themselves or challenge leaders about the academy’s performance.
The behaviour and safety of pupils are good
  • The behaviour of pupils is good. Most pupils display positive attitudes to learning and behave well, both in
    lessons and around the academy. This is an important factor in the good progress they make in lessons.
    Staff, pupils and the parents and carers spoken to during the inspection, agree that the behaviour of most
    pupils is good.
  • The emphasis on good behaviour begins in the Nursery and Reception classes and is reinforced
    throughout the academy. There are well-structured procedures to recognise and reward good behaviour
    and the consequences of any misbehaviour are made clear. Although in a few lessons some of the most-
    able pupils occasionally lose interest when they are not challenged by their learning, most pupils conform
    to the academy’s high expectations of their behaviour. As a result, the academy is calm and the learning
    environment is purposeful.
  • The academy is generally successful in helping pupils who find it hard to comply with behavioural
    expectations to improve. These pupils make good progress, because most teachers have the necessary
    skills to manage their behaviour well. Consequently, temporary exclusion is used very sparingly and
    permanent exclusions are rare.
  • All pupils spoken to said that they enjoy being at the academy. This is evident from the improvement in
    attendance, which is now close to average, and from the reduction in the levels of persistent absence.
  • The academy’s work to keep pupils safe and secure is good. All staff are checked for their suitability prior
    to appointment and all visitors and volunteers are also appropriately checked. Pupils feel safe in the
    academy and are confident that adults will look after them well if they have any concerns. The academy’s
    determination that bullying or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated is made very clear.
  • Pupils understand about different kinds of bullying, including cyber bullying, physical bullying and
    persistent name-calling. Pupils say that while there have been instances of bullying in the past, they are
    not aware of any current issues. They are confident that any incidents would be quickly dealt with by
  • Pupils respond well to opportunities to take on responsibility. Through, for example, their roles as
    academy councillors or members of the eco-team, they develop self-confidence and make positive
    contributions to the academy community.
  • The breakfast club is well-supervised and provides the pupils who attend with a very welcoming, friendly
    and nutritious start to the day.
The quality of teaching is good
  • Good and better teaching ensures that all groups of pupils make good progress and achieve well in
    reading, writing and mathematics. Good relationships and effective class management are features of the
    teaching in most lessons. These help to develop positive attitudes to learning and ensure that pupils
    almost always concentrate fully on their work.
  • In most lessons, teachers make good use of their subject knowledge and assessment information to plan
    work that is appropriately demanding for all groups of pupils. However, in a few lessons, the work given to
    the most-able pupils is not hard enough and this slows their progress.
  • Teachers make clear at the outset of lessons what pupils are going to learn. Through the effective use of
    questioning, pupils’ progress is checked and their understanding is deepened because, in the main, they
    are forced to think hard. This is a strong feature of much of the good teaching seen in mathematics. For
    example, in a lesson with Year 6 pupils, rapid progress was made in understanding equivalent decimals
    and percentages because the teacher constantly asked pupils to explain the reasoning that led to their
    answers and checked that all understood before moving on.
  • Good teaching of phonics provides the basis for the improving performance seen in the Year 1 screening
    check. This, together with the good teaching evident in all other classes, lays the foundation for pupils’
    good progress in reading as they move through the school. In lessons and in small groups, adults provide
    effective support for pupils so they become more competent in the use of context clues and the links
    between letters and sounds. As a result, they become increasingly confident readers who are able to read
    for purpose and for pleasure by the time they leave.
  • The academy makes effective use of discussion to help pupils to decide how best to organise their writing,
    which is helping to raise standards in this subject. This is particularly helpful to pupils with weaknesses in
    language and communication, and for pupils who are at the early stages of learning to speak English.
    This, together with additional support, means that these pupils make rapid progress in spoken English by
    the time they leave the academy.
  • The teaching of physical education and sport is a particular strength. Specialist coaches work alongside
    class teachers and share their specialist skills. This helps to improve their teaching.
  • Teachers and teaching assistants work well together to make sure that disabled pupils and those with
    special educational needs make good progress. Each pupil has a well-constructed individual support plan,
    which includes their personal learning targets. These are used by teachers in planning to make sure that
    the work set is well matched to pupils’ needs.
  • There are inconsistencies in the marking of pupils’ work. Some marking, particularly in English and
    mathematics, provides pupils with clear pointers for improvement, but other marking does not help pupils
    to improve enough. In some instances the teachers’ expectations, as communicated through their
    marking, are not high enough. Spelling and punctuation errors are not always checked and poorly-
    presented work is sometimes accepted without challenge. Where pupils are given guidance, they are not
    always required to follow it through and so learn by correcting their own mistakes.
The achievement of pupils is good
  • Children enter the Early Years Foundation Stage with knowledge and skills that are often weaker than
    those typically seen at their age in communication, language, and personal and social development. Good
    care and support enable children subsequently to make good progress, although weaknesses remain in
    most areas of learning when children enter Year 1. For example, in 2014 over half of the children did not
    reach the levels that are expected for their age in communication and language, with a similar picture in
    personal and social development.
  • Good progress continues in Key Stages 1 and 2, although the standards reached at the end of Key Stage
    1 are still often well below average because of pupils’ language and communication difficulties. They are
    affected by the large number of pupils who join the academy in different years, often with low attainment
    at entry. Children who join the academy in the Nursery and Reception generally reach higher standards
    by the time they leave than those who join the academy in later year groups.
  • Pupils make particularly good progress in reading and standards have been broadly average at the end of
    Year 6 over the last three years. These standards, which represent very good progress when pupils’ skills
    on entry are taken into account, are underpinned by the good early progress made in pupils’ ability to link
    letters and sounds (phonics). Results in the Year 1 phonics screening test have shown a year-on-year
    improvement and, whilst below average, are now approaching the nationally required standard.
  • Although standards in writing and mathematics at the end of Year 6 were below average, in 2014, they
    represented good progress in relation to pupils’ starting points. Nevertheless, because the academy is
    focused on the development of writing and mathematics, standards are improving and are on track to be
    higher this year. This is confirmed by pupils’ current work and academy assessment information which
    show that the progress of pupils of all ethnic heritages and those with English as an additional language
    is good.
  • The progress of the most-able pupils is closer to the nationally expected rate of progress rather than the
    proportions making rapid progress, because they are not always given hard enough work.
  • Disadvantaged pupils make good progress and the attainment gap between these and all pupils nationally
    is narrowing. At the end of Key Stage 2 in 2014, they were close to pupils nationally in reading, about
    half-a-term behind in writing and just under two-terms behind in mathematics. Their attainment was
    about the same as their classmates in reading, and just over a term ahead in writing and mathematics.
  • Displays of pupils’ work show that they achieve well in a range of subjects. They produce good artwork,
    for example, and displays of topic work show the good development of creative and investigative skills.
    Music is a strength. Pupils showed high levels of commitment and good skills when the orchestra was
    rehearsing during the inspection.
  • Disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs make good progress. Support for these
    pupils is managed well. Their individual needs are well known and additional support is carefully tailored
    to help meet them. Younger pupils with communication and language difficulties find reading and writing
    a challenge but the good progress they make throughout the school means that gaps between these
    pupils and the others narrow by the time they leave.
  • Pupils enjoy physical activity. Their health and well-being are enhanced by their participation in well-
    taught physical education lessons.
The early years provision is good
  • Good leadership of the Early Years Foundation stage ensures that there are effective procedures for
    keeping children safe and regular checks are undertaken to make sure that equipment is safe. As a
    result, children feel safe and secure and settle quickly into the academy’s routines. Parents and carers
    appreciate the approachability of staff, the care they take of their children and the good communication
    between home and school.
  • Teachers make good use of their knowledge of the needs of early learners to provide a stimulating
    learning environment in which the development of children’s language and their social development are
    high priorities. As a result, children of all backgrounds, including disabled pupils and those who have
    special educational needs, make good progress.
  • Teachers’ assessments of children’s progress are used well to plan activities that extend the most-able
    and meet children's different needs. The attractive indoor and outdoor learning environments are used
    well to provide children with a variety of learning activities that capture their imagination and help them
    to develop and build on their starting points.
  • Adults provide good role models in showing pupils how to speak clear and correct English. They model
    expected responses clearly and often correct and extend children’s answers. As a consequence, children
    learn new words and speak and listen well. Questioning is used well to help children develop their skills
    and confidence in description. The effective teaching of phonics (letters and the sounds they make)
    provides a good platform for the development of their reading and writing skills in Year 1.

What inspection judgements mean


Grade Judgement Description
Grade 1 Outstanding An outstanding school is highly effective in delivering outcomes that
provide exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs. This ensures that pupils
are very well equipped for the next stage of their education, training or
Grade 2 Good A good school is effective in delivering outcomes that provide well for all
its pupils’ needs. Pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their
education, training or employment.
Grade 3 Requires
A school that requires improvement is not yet a good school, but it is not
inadequate. This school will receive a full inspection within 24 months
from the date of this inspection.
Grade 4 Inadequate A school that requires special measures is one where the school is failing
to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the school’s
leaders, managers or governors have not demonstrated that they have
the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school. This
school will receive regular monitoring by Ofsted inspectors.

A school that has serious weaknesses is inadequate overall and requires
significant improvement but leadership and management are judged to
be Grade 3 or better. This school will receive regular monitoring by
Ofsted inspectors.

School details

Unique reference number 137786
Local authority Nottingham
Inspection number 448625

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

Type of school Primary
School category Academy converter
Age range of pupils 3-11
Gender of pupils Mixed
Number of pupils on the school roll 308
Appropriate authority Select
Chair Rex Walker
Headteacher Mr Paul Worley
Date of previous school inspection Not previously inspected
Telephone number 0115 9155804
Fax number 01159155803
Email address reveal email: adm…

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