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Academy's pupils really are inspired
CHILDREN who left primary school without getting good grades do better at Oxford Spires Academy than anywhere else in the county.
Figures released by the Department for Education show that one in five of its students who left primary school without achieving Level 4 in English and maths – the benchmark at age 11 – leave the Glanville Road school with at least five good GCSEs including English and maths.
That is the equivalent of 20 per cent. The Oxfordshire average is 5.5 per cent.
Nine county secondaries achieved zero per cent, meaning no children who went into the schools with low attainment achieved five good grades.
Spires headteacher Sue Croft said: “This has been the crucial thing for us. These are children who would in any other school not have got that golden pathway and that is what we are excited about.”
The proportion of children with prior low attainment who made expected levels of progress in both English and maths was well above the county and national average, at 77 per cent for English and 53 per cent for maths.
In Oxfordshire, 38.9 per cent of previously low attaining pupils made expected progress in English and 27.1 per cent in maths.
Mrs Croft said: “What we do is find out what skills they don’t have and make sure they get them. If it’s not being able to sound out sounds and read, we put them on a programme to address that.
“Where it’s comprehension skills, we work specifically on that, and with the mathematics, we give enough time over to mathematics so we can look at the gaps they have got.”
Making sure the children caught up included extra half-term classes, Easter classes and Saturday classes in some cases.
The school has set further ambitious targets.
While 57 per cent of all pupil achieved five A* to Cs including English and maths last summer, Mrs Croft said the goal was for 80 per cent of the current Year 8 class to achieve the target – which would place the school at the top of the state-school table in Oxfordshire.
She said: “We are working with Year 7 and 8 children to build up their skills at the same time as doing some very intensive intervention with Year 10 and 11s who have missed out a little bit lower down.
“We look at every child and know what every child has got in every subject, and in every topic in every subject, and we dig down and see where they need support.”
Oxfordshire County Council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley said Spires was one of a number of schools which had impressed her in this year’s results.
She said: “What we have to do is get them together with the ones that aren’t doing so well and get them to share good practice. The fact that they have come in with low attainment and done so well is a real tribute to the school.”