Schools rated good despite recent criticism

Exterior shot of Longsands Academy in St Neots
Longsands Academy in St Neots has received a "good" Ofsted rating [Martin Giles/BBC]

Two schools have been rated "good" by Ofsted, despite recent criticism from teachers about the academy trust that runs them.

St Ivo Academy in St Ives and Longsands Academy in St Neots have been upgraded from "requires improvement" following an inspection by the schools regulator.

Some staff, speaking anonymously, have criticised what they see as strict policies introduced to address poor pupil behaviour.

Astrea Academy Trust said its policies were "easy-to-follow and reasonable" and contributed to a "calm, purposeful and safe environment".

St Ivo Academy sign
St Ivo Academy has also been upgraded from "requires improvement" to "good" [Steve Hubbard/BBC]

St Ivo Adademy was rated "good" for its quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management and sixth-form provision.

Principal Tony Meneaugh said the result was a "fantastic achievement", adding: "Everyone has contributed to this success through their hard work and determination and I'm really proud to be leading St Ivo on to even better things."

The St Ives school was rated as "requires improvement" in 2021, owing to the poor behaviour of a "significant minority" of pupils and leaders failing to routinely share information on bullying, behaviour, safeguarding and alternative provision.

Inspectors who visited in April noted "positive changes" which many students credited for making the school a "better place".

Longsands Academy sign
Longsands Academy was rated "good" in four of five categories. [Martin Giles/BBC]

Longsands Academy achieved the same rating, with behaviour and attitudes the only category given "requires improvement".

In this area, Ofsted said students at the St Neots school "do not respond positively to the school's behaviour management processes" and teachers did not apply policies "consistently".

The report did, however, say the school's actions in addressing "deep-rooted behaviours" were "bearing fruit."

Principal Catherine Cusick acknowledged a "challenging few years" leading to this "watershed moment" for the school.

"We know we have further to go - particularly on behaviour - but we have a clear programme of improvement that we know is working," she said.

Former teachers at the school have spoken out on the trust's controversial behaviour policies, saying they were causing anxiety for students and staff.

The trust said teachers were the "lifeblood" of its schools.

In February, Ofsted conducted a survey of Longsands pupils. Of the 745 who responded:

  • 70% said their child was unhappy at school

  • 51% did not feel their child was safe there

  • 64% thought Astrea did not deal with concerns properly

The trust said it was "disappointed" in the survey results and was working to engage with parents and carers.

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