BOLTON’S newest sponsored academy school has been found to require improvement, according to Ofsted.

But inspectors said The Ferns Academy in Farnworth, which opened when the troubled Plodder Lane Primary School closed down, was being “steered” in the right direction by the headteacher.

Teaching and pupils’ achievement was making rapid improvement, said the report, which was the first full Ofsted inspection since Plodder Lane Primary became an academy in September, 2012, after being placed in special measures for the second time.

The behaviour and safety of pupils, and leadership and management, were rated good, but achievement of pupils and quality of teaching required improvement.

The inspectors reported that, by the end of year six, standards are “well below” the national average for the 3Rs, but added that pupils’ progress is “improving rapidly”.

They added: “Pupils are friendly, polite and very proud of their school.

“They enjoy speaking to adults and older pupils are quick to point out just how much has changed in the school over the last two years.

“‘Children were always messing, fighting and getting sent home but that doesn’t happen now,’ was how a pupil described the turnaround.”

Headteacher Debra Murphy’s “strong and determined leadership” was said to be “key to the rapid improvements” and that a “highly effective team” was tackling “the legacy of past underperformance and has rooted out inadequate teaching”.

Mrs Murphy said: “There is still room for further improvement but, given our starting point, we are very pleased with this report.

“The behaviour of pupils is now good and even older pupils pointed out to the Ofsted inspectors just how much has changed over the last two years. This, in turn, contributes to a much improved climate for learning.

“I should like to thank my teaching staff, governors and parents for their continuing support and also a huge ‘well done’ to all our children who continue to work really hard and are so keen to learn.”

Roger Alston, chief executive of the Northern Education Trust, the school’s sponsor, added: “Debra has injected a great deal of vibrancy into the school and created a real appetite for learning so that all children are now fully engaged in the learning process.

“The exam results from last year were a legacy of pre-2012 problems before we took over the school.

“But we are confident that everything is heading in the right direction and believe that The Ferns Primary Academy can look forward to a very promising future.”