Merchants' Academy wins Ofsted praise
28 June 2011
A pioneering school, co-sponsored by the University of Bristol, is celebrating after an overwhelmingly positive Ofsted inspection.
Merchants’ Academy, in Withywood, South Bristol, was praised by the watchdog for its good teaching, innovative new approaches and for inspiring its students to aim high.
It found the facilities at the new £30million campus to be excellent and praised the “highly effective” contributions from the Society of Merchant Venturers and the University of Bristol, both of which sponsor the school.
Ofsted's 15-page report rated Merchants’ Academy as good overall and said: “Although standards at the end of Year 11 have been low since the academy opened, attainment is steadily improving.
“Merchants’ Academy is a good school where all students achieve well. It is improving at a fast pace and has a good capacity to sustain this.
“The highly effective sponsors are successfully fulfilling their ambition to provide a secondary school in south Bristol where employable students leave with high aspirations for their future.”
The report also praises the “inspirational leadership” of Principal Anne Burrell and the “outstanding” work of the governing body.
Mrs Burrell, who came to Merchants’ Academy last September, said: “I am delighted with this report and very proud of what we have achieved. Our staff and students should be proud, too – the inspectors have confirmed what we all know: Merchants’ Academy is a great school and is transforming the education landscape in south Bristol.
“In fact, parents across the south of the city and beyond are already recognising this – which is why we are oversubscribed for Year 7 places this coming September.”
Mrs Burrell said their next target was to move the school “from good to great” and was already addressing the areas for improvement highlighted by the inspectors.
Denis Burn, who is Chair of Governors at the Academy, Chair of the University of Bristol Council and a Merchant Venturer, said: “The Merchant Venturers are proud of what has been achieved at Merchants’ Academy.
“Our aim has always been to create a new school in south Bristol which encourages high aspirations among its students and ensures they have all the skills and qualifications necessary for a successful career. As Ofsted makes clear, Merchants’ Academy is now fulfilling that aim, which is why we are increasingly attracting students from across a wide area.”
A team of four inspectors visited the Academy for two days earlier this month and looked in depth at a number of areas, including the attainment and progress of current Year 9 pupils, who were the first Year 7 group when the Academy opened in new buildings in September 2008.
Merchants' Academy is co-sponsored by the Society of Merchant Venturers and the University of Bristol.
The University of Bristol is actively involved in the development of the Academy curriculum and allows students to access its excellent academic facilities. The university also offers support in other areas, such as mentoring and the provision of vocational work placements.
The Society of Merchant Venturers is a private entrepreneurial and charitable organisation that actively supports enterprise in Bristol.
They have been involved in improving the city's education for at least 400 years and provided a capital commitment of £2million towards the new Academy building and significant additional revenue support.