Nottingham University Samworth Academy exceeds expectations

NUSA kids celebrate
19 Jun 2012 11:30:00.000


Three years ago Nottingham University Samworth Academy (NUSA) opened with a falling school roll, in dreadful buildings and with very low expectations among the pupils. Now there are waiting lists for entry, a new building — and resounding endorsement from Ofsted.

Under the new and more challenging Ofsted regime, NUSA has been identified as a “good school” in an inspection report published on June 18, 2012.

The Academy has shown such remarkable improvement since its foundation in 2009 that the inspectors awarded a Good grade in all four categories — Achievement of Pupils, Quality of Teaching, Behaviour & Safety and Leadership & Management.

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The report said: “Attainment at the end of Year 11 rose dramatically in 2011 and is on track to rise again this year” and that “leaders have been highly effective in driving up standards and the quality of teaching.”

Dramatic improvements

Credit for this achievement goes to some outstanding teaching and to the pupils, whose radically changed aspirations and approach to their learning has made the Academy’s rapid improvement possible. The report said that “Students talk of the dramatic improvements in behaviour since the academy opened,” while according to a recent study “measures of ambition and confidence at NUSA are dramatically increased.”

NUSA Principal, Dave Harris, points out that “the aspiration was always there among these children and their families — it just wasn’t being put into action.”

The Academy attributes its success to a combination of attention paid to pupils’ attitudes with an intensive focus on teaching and learning. Sponsorship from The University of Nottingham has also been a crucial element in NUSA’s development, with the Academy acting as a test-bed for innovative ways for universities to interact with schools. NUSA is in Bilborough, Nottingham.

Professor Di Birch, NUSA Project Director on behalf of the University, said: “I am very proud of NUSA’s success, and of the commitment of University staff and students who support the academy. We in turn are learning and benefiting from the interaction with NUSA’s staff.”

There are long-term projects addressing issues such as literacy, primary transition and building a research culture. These run alongside a wide range of smaller-scale, striking events which might affect only a dozen pupils at a time, but which create a picture of perpetual creative activity.

Excellent work

MP Graham Allen, who was involved in the origins of the Academy, said: “I am delighted by the excellent work going on in Bilborough. It is a credit to all those involved at NUSA.”

NUSA’s improvement, based on the 2011 GCSE results, is among the fastest in the country and this year’s results are set to improve still further.

“There’s no magic formula,” Dave Harris said. “We’re trying to do what’s right for these pupils right now. We’ve still got some distance to go, but we’re not stopping.”

More about the Nottingham University Samworth Academy here:  

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 40,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘the world’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2011.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news

Dave Harris was Principal of Serlby Park, a successful Business and Enterprise specialist school for pupils aged 3-18 in Doncaster. He is the author of Are You Dropping the Baton? — a guide to establishing and running all-through schools.

For articles by Dave Harris:

Story credits

More information is available from Dave Harris, Principal, Nottingham University Samworth Academy,; Professor Di Birch, NUSA Project Director for The University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5706,
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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