Burlington Danes: ‘Outstanding’ turnaround for once failing school

Burlington Danes Academy, once labelled one of London's worst comprehensives, has been judged outstanding by Ofsted in all four categories. The report is available to read here.

Following a full inspection on 21-22 November, Ofsted’s report makes for exceptional reading. “The mission to provide the very best education for every pupil within a caring and safe environment has become a reality in this outstanding academy,” states the report.  “Given their starting points students make outstanding progress resulting in above average attainment, especially in English and mathematics.”

The report also notes that the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (the most common indicator of poverty) is well above national average as is the proportion of students who speak English as an additional language.

The achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils, and leadership and management all received the highest grading based on the new Ofsted criteria, introduced in September 2013. Under the new tightened criteria it is thought that only 4-5% of schools will be awarded outstanding status.

Placed in special measures in 2006 and made the first ARK school the same year, the school has experienced a dramatic turnaround. Principal Dame Sally Coates and Senior Vice Principal Michael Ribton joined in 2008 and the school has been on an upward trajectory ever since.

Dame Sally Coates said: “It is a stunning achievement for the school and the ARK Schools’ network.  I am so proud of my staff.”

Despite lower national averages in this summer’s GSCE results, Burlington Danes pupils celebrated record achievement with 77% A*-C (including English and maths), more than double its 2006 results. The sixth form, founded in 2009, followed suit with a 99% pass rate and 50% of all qualifications awarded at A*- B.

Ken Bromfield, governor and former pupil, said: “Burlington Danes is now established as an outstanding school, serving the community in which I was born and raised. There is no question in my mind that the decision to bring BDA under ARK's wing was the vital step on the hard road to success via Sally and her fantastic team.”

Chair of Governors Lord Stanley Fink said: “I am so thrilled and proud of the school and would like to pay enormous tribute to Sally for her phenomenal leadership, the Senior Leadership Team who have helped drive the school forward and the amazing and hardworking staff.

Burlington Danes Academy’s journey continues with a new primary school opening within the ARK network on its White City site in September 2014. 11 of the 12 ARK academies so far inspected by Ofsted have been rated good or outstanding.

In addition to her role at Burlington Danes, Dame Sally Coates is Executive Principal at ARK Putney Academy, recently rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted. In June, Alison Downey became Principal of ARK Putney having previously been Vice Principal of Burlington Danes.