AN ACADEMY has been told its disadvantaged pupils are falling behind their classmates. Ofsted has said Shirley High Performing Arts College needs to do more to address their lack of progress in English and maths. The report, published this week, also said the secondary school's most able pupils "do no make good progress". Head teacher Nigel Barrow said he accepted Ofsted's criticisms and would make changes as a "matter of priority". The inspection team, which visited the 1077-pupil school in November, criticised the quality of teaching and the sixth form, particularly the below average attainment of students studying AS levels. Shirley High, in Shirley Church Road, has an above average number of pupils who are eligible for the pupil premium, which gives schools additional funding for pupils from difficult backgrounds. "The progress in English and maths of students for whom the school receives the premium is not sufficiently rapid," the report said. "On average these students attain GCSE grades lower in English and three-quarters of a grade lower in maths than other students in the school." Ofsted said students who qualified for Year 7 catch-up funding also make less than expected progress. "The school is not making good use of additional resources provided for these two groups of learners," the report added. Ofsted also said the school needed to "urgently introduce systematic approaches to the teaching of literacy across the curriculum". In contrast, the inspectors recognised the progress made in performing arts and vocational sixth form subjects, and praised behaviour, attendance and the low number of exclusions. Overall the school was judged as "requires improvement", the second to lowest grade, and will be reinspected within a year. Shirley High, previously judged to be "good", converted to become an academy in January 2012. Despite Ofsted's criticisms, Mr Barrow believes the report supports his belief that Shirley High has continued to improve. In a statement emailed to the Advertiser, he said: "The recent inspection, which was conducted under a new, more rigorous inspection framework, identified some aspects of the school that now require attention. "We welcome this opportunity to further improve the school and we will be implementing the recommended changes as a matter of priority." He added: "We acknowledge that we need to focus our pupil premium funding more directly on English and Maths provision and that the AS curriculum provided in our first year of Sixth Form was not best suited to some learners."
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