Workington Academy has achieved a remarkable turnaround in fortunes after being judged Good by Ofsted.

Inspectors’ approval is the latest endorsement for the academy, formed through the merger of two failing schools, which has seen student numbers shoot up in recent years as its reputation has grown.

It’s a very different story from the academy’s beginnings when Southfield Technology College and Stainburn School and Science College were forced to close following poor inspections. The newly formed academy became part of Cumbria Education Trust and moved to a new build on the former Stainburn site in 2017.

As well as confirming Good gradings for overall effectiveness, the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management and sixth form provision, inspectors highlighted various areas for praise.

These included:

  • The strong relationship between pupils and teachers in lessons. Pupils and students learn without disruption.
  • School leaders are ambitious for all, irrespective of ability or background, and pupils achieve well.
  • Students are ‘immensely proud of their school’ and ‘eager to share with visitors all that the school has to offer’.
  • The high expectations for behaviour with pupils unanimous that discriminatory behaviour was not tolerated in the school community.
  • Our extensive personal development curriculum provides pupils with a ‘plethora of opportunities that enable them to flourish’.
  • Workington Academy is a safe, happy place where pupils are accepted for who they are.

Inspectors, who observed the school for two days in March, looked in-depth across a range of subjects, interviewed staff, students, Local Advisory Board members and senior leadership at Cumbria Education Trust.

The report added: “By the end of Key stage 4 (GCSEs and other exams), pupils have secured a rich body of knowledge across many subjects. This affords pupils the choice to take advantage of the vast curriculum offer in the sixth form.”

They concluded: “Pupils and students value how well prepared they are for life in modern Britain. They assume many responsibilities such as sports leaders and school councillors with pride.”

The school is oversubscribed again for the 2022/23 academic year. In September there will be more than 1,200 young people on its roll – up from fewer than 800 just four years ago.

Executive Headteacher Des Bird said: “The journey this school has been on is quite remarkable. The academy has come so far in just a few years and we are delighted this has been recognised.

“Most importantly we have become a very popular choice in our local area because the community can see all the hard work that goes into improving outcomes for our young people.”

The trust’s CEO Lorrayne Hughes said: “Well done to all at Workington Academy, the report is very pleasing. The school continues to go from strength to strength and everyone involved should be very proud of what has been achieved.”

Tracy Stainton, Chair of the academy’s Local Advisory Board governing body, said: “I am delighted that Ofsted has confirmed what pupils and parents have been saying, that Workington Academy is a Good school with high expectations for our pupils, delivering education in a safe and supportive environment.

“The report also rightly recognises the hard work of Mr Bird and his staff to support all pupils.”

You can view the GOOD Ofsted report on the Workington Academy website