Manchester school leapfrogs up Ofsted ratings

According to Manchester Evening News, a boys’ academy has leapfrogged from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘outstanding’, but the head teacher believes that morals are far more important than ratings

A Manchester school has leapt from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘outstanding’ in its most recent Ofsted inspection, defying all challenges.

Burnage Academy for Boys has had a troubled history, educating pupils from some of the most disadvantages parts of the city.

However, it has loftier plans than an improved inspection rating. Ian Fenn, head teacher at the school and member of staff there for 19 years, said:

“We’ve been rated ‘outstanding’; so what? There was a murder here in 1986. If you take that as ground zero, it’s taken all that time, successive headteachers and successive populations of children coming through to get to the stage where we are now

“At no point have we changed what we do to fit in with Ofsted. We have a set of values which I kind of inherited and happened to coincide with my values, and we’ve built on that. For the first time in 30-odd years, what Ofsted want and what we deliver seem to converge.

“Those who want to trim their sails according to the next gust of wind are fine if that’s what they want to do, but I’m afraid that’s of no interest to me whatsoever.”

Regardless, inspectors have praised the academy, with teachers deemed ‘excellent’ and pupil behaviour and safeguarding greatly improved.

‘The school welcomes pupils of many different backgrounds,’ the Ofsted report states. ‘Some pupils have previously had very difficult experiences in their lives.

‘These include pupils who have travelled as refugees from war zones. Pupils get on well together and treat each other as equals.’

Fenn said that the school’s task is to equip boys with the moral tools to make the best choices they can. “We tailor what we do to their needs, not someone else’s,” he said.

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“Our values are simply about getting pupils to be the very best they can be. And, above all, making the right moral choices. It’s not just about how well you do in your exams. It’s actually about what kind of person you are going to be.”

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