NUSA moves out of ‘special measures’

November 18th, 2015

Improvements at Nottingham University Samworth Academy (NUSA) have lifted the school out of special measures, according to the latest inspection by Ofsted.

NUSA was placed in special measures in the autumn of 2013 and the leadership team and staff have worked hard to improve all aspects of the school. The outcome of this inspection is a welcome confirmation that the strategies put in place by the sponsors (The University of Nottingham and the Samworth Trust) and the Torch Academy Gateway Trust (who operate the school as education partners), have had a real impact.

The conclusion of an Ofsted Inspection at the Bilborough school on October 20-21 was that “Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector is of the opinion that the school no longer requires special measures”.

Mark Watts, Head of School, said: “We are delighted that Ofsted have moved the school out of special measures. This judgement is testament to the immense hard work that staff and students have displayed over the last two years.

“With the unwavering support of the sponsors and directors we have undertaken an ambitious and focused programme of school improvement. Every aspect of the school’s operation has been reviewed and our unrelenting focus on teaching and learning has begun to bear fruit.

“We would agree with Ofsted when they categorise the school as ‘Requiring Improvement’. We believe we have only just started a journey that will eventually create a school at NUSA that realises the ambitions of all its students and challenges the young people of Bilborough to achieve their true potential.”

Professor Sarah O’Hara, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience at The University of Nottingham, said: “This is very welcome news for the students, staff and leadership team and it’s fantastic that all the improvements at NUSA have been formally recognised. NUSA has come a long way in the last two years, and we look forward to working with the school as it continues to improve.”

There were many positives contained within the inspection report which placed the school in the ‘Requires Improvement’ category.

John Tomasevic, CEO of the Torch academy Gateway Trust concluded: “This outcome validates the direction of travel the Torch Academy Gateway Trust Group has set out in partnership with the NUSA Trust for the long term prosperity and wellbeing of the students who attend the academy. Whilst we recognise there is still a long way to go to build an outstanding school we are confident that we now have the foundations to deliver this vision.”

Headline Strengths

  • The head of school, deputy headteacher and other senior leaders have transformed the culture and aspirations of the academy; there is increasing evidence of impact of their actions in pupils’ achievement and behaviour and in the quality of teaching.
  • Achievement in English is consistently good.
  • Disabled pupils and those with special educational needs make good progress.
  • Vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils are well supported and cared for.
  • Pupils’ conduct, manners and attitudes towards one another are usually respectful.
  • Partners and sponsors have enhanced the quality of the curriculum, teaching and continuous professional development across the academy.

Leadership and Management

  • The executive headteacher, head of school and other senior leaders have been successful in bringing about order and stability to the academy. Management systems are clear and simple. Staff, parents and pupils have high levels of confidence in the leadership of the academy.
  • The academy ethos of ‘Work Hard: Be Kind’ is reinforced and realised through consistent messages and the professional conduct of all members of staff.
  • The academy’s partnerships and sponsors, specifically the University of Nottingham and the Torch Academy Gateway Trust, have made a significant difference to improving the quality of teaching and leadership across the academy.
  • Leaders have rightly given top priority to improving the quality of teaching. The range of training and development programmes available to staff is wide, well thought-out and tailored to teachers’ levels of experience. Teachers also have good opportunities to learn from best practice outside the academy.

Quality of Teaching and Learning

  • The teaching of English is a strength of the academy.
  • The quality of teaching is consistently good or better in a range of subjects including Spanish, physical education and practical and vocational subjects. In physical education, there are high levels of engagement and participation because teachers meticulously plan activities which are interesting and stretching. In the social sciences, including child development and health and social care, teachers ensure that work is carefully planned and they provide pupils with expert guidance to help them make progress.
  • Support and guidance for pupils with disabilities and special educational needs is exemplary. In particular, support staff in the academy’s specialist provision for pupils with hearing impairment are very skilled and effective.


  • Pupils’ behaviour in the classroom and around the academy is now calm, orderly and respectful. There is very little low-level disruption to learning.
  • Pupils’ attitudes towards learning are also improving. An example of this is that pupils’ attendance at after-school clubs and revision sessions is high, even when they are on Saturdays.

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