Marylebone’s King Solomon Academy celebrates second ‘outstanding’ Ofsted result

Sir Michael Wilshaw, centre, who made a special visit to King Solomon Academy, pictured with head of

Sir Michael Wilshaw, centre, who made a special visit to King Solomon Academy, pictured with head of secondary Venessa Willms, left, and head of primary Max Haimendorf, right, and pupils, from left, Adam Nejjary, 13, Taslima Zaman and Maria Hayat, both 12. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A Marylebone school has come top of the class for the second time running with a superlative Ofsted report.

The 662-pupil King Solomon Academy in Penfold Street, which in time will teach almost 900 children from nursery through to the sixth form, was judged “outstanding” in every category following an inspection last month.

The report glowed with such praise that Sir Michael Wilshaw, her majesty’s chief inspector of schools and the chief executive of Ofsted, paid the academy a visit last Wednesday to congratulate pupils and staff and speak about what makes a great school.

The report found that:

- its nursery-age starters have below-average skills but “progress rapidly”;

- lessons are “demanding, well-paced and interesting”;

- a focus on developing “a love of reading” sees pupils’ progress in all areas improve;

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- progression of pupils with English as an additional language and those with special needs is “outstanding”;

- behaviour is “exemplary” and not a single pupil spoken to could recall an incident of bullying;

- pupils “thoroughly enjoy their learning, are happy and feel very safe”;

- teachers’ “expert subject knowledge inspires pupils to be highly motivated, enthusiastic learners”;

- the curriculum is designed to ensure university entrance “is a realistic ambition” for the majority of pupils;

- despite the academy’s success there is “no hint of complacency” among staff or governors.

Inspectors singled out its school orchestra as an example of its commitment to all pupils, as “every pupil plays a musical instrument, the instrument and the tuition are provided by the school and all play in the orchestra”.

They also remarked on the benefits of a longer school day, focus on tailored support and smaller class sizes, made possible by use of the pupil premium, an extra payment made to inner-city schools to help them deal with the greater challenges they face.

The only flaw inspectors could find, in a school which has some of the country’s highest proportions of students from ethnic minority groups and those speaking English as an additional language, were “slight inconsistencies” in the quality of teachers’ marking.

Venessa Willms, primary co-principal at the academy which is run by charitable sponsor Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), said: “We’re thrilled that Ofsted has endorsed the hard work of everyone at King Solomon Academy. We are fortunate to have an exceptionally dedicated and talented staff and this rating reflects their outstanding commitment.”

Secondary co-principal Max Haimendorf added: “We’re pleased that the inspectors recognised the strength of the school community, pupils, their families, our staff, governors and ARK Schools. Everyone plays an important part in our shared success and we’d both like to thank them all for their support.”