‘Firm and fair’ - Teachers at Birmingham’s biggest secondary school applauded for discipline

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Fortis Academy, formerly Great Barr School, gets a new Ofsted rating after previously being deemed ‘failing’

One of Birmingham’s biggest secondary schools has been applauded by Ofsted inspectors for a ‘firm and fair’ approach by its teachers.

Fortis Academy, formerly Great Barr School, is no longer a failing school having been officially given a ‘good’ rating following a two-day visit in October.

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Inspectors noted how the Aldridge Road school had been “through a period of turbulence recently” in relation to staffing but “leaders have significantly improved the school, including in the curriculum, behaviour and attendance”.

Headteacher Andrew Williams has also raised expectations and standards. The report adds: “All pupils have their uniforms checked on arrival at school at the ‘red line’. Pupils do not object to this and willingly go to the ‘uniform room’ for a change of footwear or to borrow a tie. This is a strong example of where the school’s new culture is accepted.”

Fortis Academy, Great Barr, BirminghamFortis Academy, Great Barr, Birmingham
Fortis Academy, Great Barr, Birmingham | LDRS

Lead Ofsted inspector Guy Shears commented: “The school provides effective support to both pupils and their families, including new arrivals to the school. The school strives hard to overcome any barriers pupils may have in attending school and learning. Attendance, which was low last year, has improved rapidly because of leaders’ actions. As a result, absence has significantly reduced.”

As for making improvements, Fortis Academy was told that “teachers do not always accurately identify gaps and errors in pupils’ knowledge”. The report added: “Teaching approaches are not always adapted precisely enough to meet the needs of some pupils, including those with SEND. This means that some pupils do not learn elements of the curriculum as well as their peers.”

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The Ofsted visit was the first post-Covid following a damning report in 2019. Previously a foundation school administered by Birmingham City Council, Great Barr School converted to an academy in December 2016 before changing its name to Fortis Academy. The school has 1,602 pupils on its roll, 168 of whom attend sixth form.

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