A Sunderland secondary school could be judged ‘Outstanding’ at its next graded inspection if it keeps up the good work witnessed by inspectors at an ungraded inspection.

St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, which is part of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, was inspected by Ofsted in June and awarded a ‘Good’ rating.

Ofsted lead inspector, Matthew Vellensworth, said in his report: “There is more than enough evidence of improved performance to suggest that the school would be judged outstanding if we were to carry out a graded inspection now.”

Inspectors described the academy as a place where pupils are “encouraged, every day, to ‘climb the mountain’”, adding that “these small, daily steps encourage pupils to believe in themselves”. Pupils “feel safe” and are “incredibly well prepared for life after they leave the school” and “relationships between teachers and pupils are kind, respectful and caring”. Many teachers eat lunch with pupils creating a “positive atmosphere” which continues into lessons where learners are enthusiastic and focused.

They added that the culture within the school is one of “high standards” and that pupils are “happy” with “exemplary” behaviour and understand the importance of the underpinning “core values of trust, hard work and fairness woven through every aspect of school life”. Also acknowledged was “the academic rigour” and “ambition” of the curriculum described as “exceptional”. Inspectors noted that planning and transition from primary school “takes account of what pupils learn” and that on their academic journey, “pupils are well supported to identify, prepare for and access high-quality university courses and apprenticeships”.

“Staff are proud to be part of the school,” continued the report. Recent approaches to reduce workload marking are “appreciated” by class teachers whilst leaders’ focus on ensuring a “calm, purposeful and respectful atmosphere means that teachers can focus completely on delivering the planned curriculum”. It added that staff feel “highly valued”.

Headteacher Glenn Sanderson is heartened by the feedback and is very proud of all the pupils, staff, parents and governors.

“It is an outstanding report and a true testament to the dedication of our leadership, staff, pupils, parents and wider community,” said Mr Sanderson.

“We are delighted that inspectors saw in our school what every visitor sees, a learning community in which all individuals are provided with the opportunity to flourish.

“We unapologetically have the highest of expectations and aspirations for every individual, with practices and routines which demand and nurture a strong sense of moral purpose. We feel the report encapsulates everything we have achieved together. 

“We are incredibly proud of the learning community we have created here at St Aidan’s Catholic Academy and are thrilled inspectors were so positive about what we do day in and day out.”

BCCET chief executive Brendan Tapping said: “St Aidan’s Catholic Academy should be very proud of this recognition of their hard work and the journey it is on. BCCET will continue to support the school in delivering exceptional opportunities for young people in the Sunderland area.” 

For more information, please visit www.bccet.org.uk