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UCL Academy headteacher: ‘Tough Ofsted will only make us better’

Headteacher Geraldine Davies with pupils at UCL Academy, Swiss Cottage. Picture: Polly Hancock Headteacher Geraldine Davies with pupils at UCL Academy, Swiss Cottage. Picture: Polly Hancock

Thursday, June 19, 2014
3:00 PM

The headteacher of Camden’s only academy school has vowed to raise standards after being told it needs to improve following its first Ofsted inspection.

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Inspectors said UCL Academy, Adelaide Road, Swiss Cottage, needs to improve the quality of its teaching, the progress made by pupils and the way that the school is managed, in an overview of its performance since it opened in 2012.

The school was given a “requires improvement” rating, one up from the lowest grade, in the report published last week.

“It’s early days for the school,” said headteacher Geraldine Davies, “but it will make us better.

“All the things they identified are already part of our plan, so there were no real surprises.

“We want every school to be fantastic so I absolutely agree that the Ofsted criteria should be challenging. But I do think the current form [of inspection] doesn’t allow the inspectors to capture the real richness of the education experience.”

The school, which has students in Years 7, 8 and sixth form, is sponsored by University College London (UCL) in Bloomsbury and specialises in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Exams

Ofsted criticised the lack of progress made by pupils in the younger two years, stating that “lower-ability students find it difficult to maintain concentration” in two-hour lessons.

It also found there were “no students currently at the stage where leaders would consider the appropriateness of early examination entry”.

But inspectors praised the behaviour and safety of pupils, reporting that bullying is rare and that students’ attitudes to learning are mostly good.

Mrs Davies said: “We take it on the chin. There’s nothing in that report that would be against what we want to achieve.

“We set high expectations so that when we say children progress, they progress with confidence, independence and in collaboration with one another.”

The report follows a disappointing set of AS-level exam results last summer when many students had to resit exams.

A UCL spokesman said: “Although we were disappointed by some elements of the Ofsted report for the UCL Academy, we have found the process productive and fully accept the recommendations from the inspection team, which are entirely in line with the academy’s plans.

“The school is at an early phase in its development, and we expected that this would be reflected in Ofsted’s judgement.

“We continue to work closely with the school and with the governing body on several of the areas identified in the report.”

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