NDA Progress Update

I am writing to update you on the progress we have made at North Durham Academy since I have been in post and more recently, following the Ofsted Inspection in May this year.

As you will have seen, our A’ level, General Applied and GCSE results have seen a significant improvement. Our post-16 results are the highest in the Academy’s history with the General Applied being significantly above national averages. Following the first GCSE statistical release from the DfE, all headline progress measures show significant improvement on the previous year. The key headline Progress 8 figure is now in line with national averages, which means that I am pleased to say that North Durham Academy no longer meets the Department for Education’s ‘Coasting School’ definition. This hugely improved picture means that we are the highest achieving secondary school in Stanley this year. My colleagues and Governors are very proud of these achievements.

You will be aware that Ofsted identified that Disadvantaged students and some of those with special educational needs were underperforming. Our progress data for these sub-groups are considerably higher this year and the performance of the cohort reflect the hard work of our students, teachers, support workers and parents/carers. It is a great example of what can be achieved when we all work together as a team.

Following this summer’s examination season, we have already seen the first measurable impacts of the strategies we have implemented since January 2017 (which were acknowledged by the Ofsted team). This, alongside strong attendance in all year groups (particularly Year 7 which is significantly above national averages), reinforces the positive strides which have been made by the Academy in a very short space of time.

In September, we made a number of very strong leadership appointments to ensure we embed and sustain the progress we have made so far, none more so than in English and Mathematics. Mrs D Thompson and Mr T Clough both have huge experience of leading outstanding departments. I am certain we will quickly see the impact of their expertise in these important subject areas.

We have a comprehensive and detailed Improvement Plan in place, which steers our progress and allows us to closely monitor what we do and demonstrate success against these actions. I would like to thank all parents who responded to my letter in the summer asking for views and opinions of how we might improve things at NDA. These views have been built into the Improvement Plan. The Academy is working closely with colleagues across the Trust and the Local Authority to ensure progress is regularly and robustly evaluated.

When I walk around the Academy there is more purpose about the students’ learning, they are friendly, positive individuals who show respect and clearly take a pride in their appearance. When I speak to the young people, they tell me they can see the difference the changes are making, particularly in lessons. We have put together a bespoke professional development plan for all teachers so they can continue to improve their practice and in turn ensure students are challenged and engaged in lessons.

As always, please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s education.

Mr Reynolds