THE borough’s first academy school has received a “good” mark from the government’s education watchdog.

Essa Academy in Great Lever was praised by Ofsted for helping its pupils — many of whom start schools with below average standards — to reach standards at the end of year 11 that are in line with national figures.

Teaching was found to be good with outstanding features.

Acting headteacher Jeff Ellis said: “The proportion of schools judged as ‘good’ or better has declined dramatically since last September.

“In this respect we can be pleased. However, as I said to HMI, even ‘good’ isn’t good enough. Our children can be rightly proud that they attend a good school, but I want them to be able to say that they attend an outstanding school.”

The school was said to prepare children for the “next stage of their lives”.

Ofsted inspectors added: “The proportion of recently left students in education, employment or training is low and numbers going on to further education are high and above the local average.”

Ofsted did note that GCSE results, which included equivalent qualifications, were above average but those results based purely on GCSEs were below average.

Pupils from white British backgrounds achieve less well than those from other ethnic backgrounds at the school. Inspectors added that the school was reviewing its policy to enter children for exams early after finding it was hindering some from fulfilling their potential.

The achievement gap between well-off pupils and poorer children is small compared to the national picture.

Pupils were said to have positive attitudes and good behaviour in lessons. The school is currently without a head after the departure of Showk Badat.

Ofsted concluded: “Teachers value the academy’s established programme for helping teachers to develop their skills.

“Leaders respond appropriately when they find evidence of underperformance.”

Mr Ellis said: “Inspectors talked enthusiastically of the strong, positive and productive relationships in the academy.

“These provide the backdrop for an outstanding learning environment.

“You can have confidence that we know our strengths and we know the areas in which we need to improve.

“We have a proven track record of securing improvements quickly and we will continue to work tirelessly to this end.”