A TAUNTON academy where “pupils do not receive an acceptable standard of education” has been told it “requires special measures” following an Ofsted inspection.

The Sky Academy, a specialist educational provision for young people with complex social, emotional, and mental health difficulties, was inspected on May 4 and 5, 2022.

The school was formerly known as The Sky College and joined the Learn@ Multi Academy Trust on April 1, 2021.

The academy’s overall effectiveness was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors in a report published on Tuesday, June 28.

It was found to be ‘inadequate’ in its quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, and leadership and management.

It was given the higher ‘requires improvement’ rating in the personal development category.

In 2015, when the school was still known as The Sky College, it received a ‘good’ rating.

The inspectors, led by Stephen McShane, wrote in their report: “Those responsible for governance were slow to stop the decline of the school.”

Somerset County Gazette: The Sky College joined the Learn@ Multi Academy Trust last year. Picture: Google Street View The Sky College joined the Learn@ Multi Academy Trust last year. Picture: Google Street View

The report said: “Pupils do not receive an acceptable standard of education.

“Although new leaders have started to tackle the very significant weaknesses of Sky Academy, it is too early to see any impact.

“Leaders have recently clarified the structure of the curriculum. They have changed the organisation of the upper school.

“However, these changes have yet to ensure that pupils develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Pupils’ special educational needs and/or disabilities are not being met.”

They added: “Too many pupils do not engage in lessons. Some behave very poorly. Leaders and staff say behaviour is now better than it was. However, expectations remain low.

“Staff do not consistently challenge low-level disruption and pupils’ lack of engagement in lessons. This impacts negatively on pupils’ learning.

“On occasions, it means that pupils’ behaviour gets worse. They become aggressive and disrupt the learning of others. Pupils’ attendance has been consistently low over a period of time.”

The report says staff members made it clear there were “significant changes” at the academy shortly before the inspection and were “positive about the new leadership team”.

The inspectors wrote: “Current leaders have taken steps to improve behaviour. They have appointed specialist staff and check behaviour much more carefully.

“However, expectations and approaches across the school are unclear. This means that staff do not deal with poor behaviour and lack of engagement consistently.”

Regarding the standard of teaching received by the academy's 78 all-male pupils, the report said: “Some teachers do not have the subject or teaching knowledge they need.

“They do not ensure that classrooms, equipment and resources support pupils to learn the intended curriculum.

“Teachers do not use assessment effectively so that they build on what pupils know already. They frequently fail to take into account pupils’ education, health and care plans (EHC plans).”

Positive aspects of the report included the academy’s clear careers programme, its use of outdoor learning and forest school, and its pupils’ high achievement in physical education (PE).

It added: “Most pupils are happy and feel that staff understand them. They feel safe and they appreciate the activities they do.

“Staff take bullying seriously. Pupils feel that any problems will be sorted out.”

In the report's closing remarks, it said: “Her Majesty’s chief inspector is of the opinion that this school requires special measures because it is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school.”

An academy spokesperson said: “At The Sky Academy, we continue to be committed to providing the highest quality transformative education for the young people in our care.

“Our core aim is to support and develop our pupils’ ambitions and to help them discover their full potential.

“We accept the findings of this latest Ofsted report, and we will work tirelessly to ensure our young people develop the skills and knowledge they need to enable them to overcome their individual barriers to success.

“The school is now under new senior leadership, and it was pleasing to see Ofsted recognise the positive impact of this change and the hard work put in by staff to nurture and build relationships with our young people and keep them safe.

“The new leadership team will continue to implement their robust action plan to meet all the necessary requirements laid out in this report, that will enable our young people to achieve their best possible outcomes.

“We look forward to evidencing these changes in the coming weeks and months.”

Somerset County Gazette: The county council will work closely with the Learn@ Multi Academy Trust following the report's release.The county council will work closely with the Learn@ Multi Academy Trust following the report's release.

A spokesperson for Somerset County Council said: “An Ofsted inspection of Sky Academy was undertaken in May 2022 and found that this academy’s overall effectiveness is ‘inadequate’ and that the academy requires special measures.

“This is clearly disappointing, and we understand parents will be concerned.

“Although it is encouraging that the report recognises early evidence of improvements, we will of course be working closely with the leadership of Learn@ Academy Trust to ensure that they make improvements and that every child attending the academy has their needs met.”

The school announced its plans to expand after joining the Learn@ Multi Academy Trust in April 2021.

It held a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction of six new classrooms in October.

You can read The Sky Academy’s full Ofsted report HERE.