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How an academy for excluded pupils is inspiring and improving

An academy that helps integrate excluded pupils back into mainstream education has seen a rapid improvement after an inadequate Ofsted rating.
Richard Barnes Academy-40
Principal Nick Morley has helped make changes at the academy

Richard Barnes Academy, which provides specialist primary and secondary education for pupils who are excluded or at risk of exclusion in the city aged between 4 and 16, is celebrating its first birthday after joining the Thomas Deacon Education Trust (TDET).

After receiving an Inadequate Ofsted rating in May 2019, the academy, then known as Peterborough's Pupil Referral Unit, began a rapid journey of transformation.

And in its following report, Ofsted commented that ‘leaders and managers are taking effective actions towards the removal of the serious weaknesses designation. The school’s action plan is fit for purpose.’

In 2020, the school rebranded to Richard Barnes Academy and appointed a new principal, Nick Morley.

One year on, the school has seen further improvements in multiple areas of the school. So far it has:

  • Updated and implemented a new uniform policy
  • Shaped and developed its core values for the next five years
  • Recruited new dedicated and enthusiastic members of staff
  • Implemented greater breadth into its curriculum particularly at Key Stage 4
  • Installed a new bespoke, purpose-built kitchen
  • Worked closely with Light Project Peterborough as its Charity of the Year

Mr Morley said: “The school has come such a long way since the ‘Inadequate’ Ofsted inspection in 2019.

“Thanks to TDET, we are now well into our journey to transform our school into an inspiring academy that offers enriching experiences for young people using highly creative ways of teaching. Together, we encourage our learners to develop the confidence, skills and knowledge to believe they can lead successful lives and make a positive contribution to our community.

“One of the first things we did after joining TDET was shape and develop our values for the next five years. We decided on Respect, Belief and Achievement which gave our learners a real sense of purpose and something to strive towards in daily school life and beyond.

“Despite multiple Covid-19 lockdowns, we have managed to keep our on focus on these values as we build an inspiring provision which fully supports all of our young people.

“Another initiative which has given our leaners a sense of purpose has been partnering with Light Project Peterborough as our Charity of the Year. It’s helped build a strong school ethos, as well as provided our learners with a broader sense of social responsibility.

“We’ve also been lucky to have received support from TDET’s Property Services Team who worked hard to create a bespoke, purpose-built kitchen ready for our learners. It’s already been put to good use and seen all sorts of creations like cooked breakfasts, salsa, kebabs and even spicy tomato soup with croutons as part of our Home Cooking course.

“But the hard work does not stop now. Looking ahead, we have lots of future plans to introduce to ensure Richard Barnes Academy continues to be a safe and enjoyable place of learning where our learners are engaged, motivated and encouraged to be the best that they can be.

“I want to thank our brilliant staff team and everyone at TDET who has made our improvement and progress possible – your unending support has been invaluable.”

The academy was the seventh to join the Thomas Deacon Education Trust that helps unite and empower like-minded schools to achieve the very best for its pupils. At the heart of the Trust’s vision is a profound belief that difference is a strength to be valued and celebrated.

To find out more about the Richard Barnes Academy, click here