Leeds City Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Leeds City Academy's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Leeds City Academy is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Mrs Jackie Rose, academy
Students have the desire
to succeed
Many people advised against application to the role of
principal of Leeds City Academy. ”It is a lost school”
and “It can never be successful because the children
have such low ability” were two of the whispered statements by
existing head teachers within the Leeds borough. The decision
to apply rested on one factor. The children deserved better.
Eight different head teachers in five years, and a shocking
local reputation. Numbers had dwindled to 240. It was time
for radical change, and change that would make a lasting
difference to these children’s lives.
Transforming a “lost” school
Leeds City Academy is part of the White Rose Academies Trust. The trust’s mission
in partnership with our sponsors, Leeds City College, is to provide high-quality
education to all students, as the future workforce of Leeds. Over the last two years
we have been on a continual journey of academy improvement, transforming
the culture to one of student-centred focus, high aspiration and pride. “Aspire
together, achieve together” is our motto and encompasses the very heart of what
we believe. The choice to use “together” twice is deliberate and powerful as it
reflects the first observation of visitors to the academy. People comment on the
“family” feel, and the warmth of the students, their openness and desire to learn.
We have built a scaffold of success around this heart, while at the same time being
outward facing in our quest to learn more, be better, and create the environment
for unlocking the potential of our students.
»Executive principal:
»Principal: Jackie Rose
»Founded in 2014
»Based in Leeds
»No. of students: 563
»No. of teachers: 48
»Ofsted: “Requires
improvement”, May 2017
Leeds City Academy
The context of the academy is highly
unique. Seventy-eight per cent of our
students have English as an additional
language and over forty per cent of
these are either new to English or
have very low competency English.
Twenty per cent come from the Gypsy
Roma community of Romania or the
Czech Republic. Also unique is that
less than half of our students are
legacy students coming from local or
English primary schools. Officially our
Progress 8 score doesn’t count because
of the high numbers of students who
enter the academy in year 10 from
other countries. Mobility is very high,
although as numbers have risen (240
in 2015 to 563 currently) we are
gaining more than we are losing.
In the early months when I joined
the academy, it was most definitely
inadequate, English teaching was
beyond poor, SEND practice was so
poor that children were reaching year
11 having had no access testing for
exams. One student with cerebral palsy
had someone booked to do her hair
once a week, but no laptop to be able
to access her lessons. The misuse of
resources was quite astonishing! We
set about unpicking and tackling each
inadequate area until in June 2016 a
mock Ofsted review validated some
positive movement. The unpublished
phrase was “You have turned this tanker
around in the dock, and it is beginning
to head in the right direction.”
Within this desert, however, were
oases of fantastic practice. In English
as an additional language, in art and
citizenship we had great GCSE results,
indicating the potential of the students
and the disjointed previous leadership
that had allowed these gaps to develop.
The 2016 summer results revealed
some significant positive movement.
Maths results had risen by 27 per cent,
our basics figure to 26 per cent from
19 and the green shoots were now
there in black-and-white numerical
figures. Our student with cerebral palsy
achieved tremendous results because
our new SENDCo had arranged for
her to have the necessary access
arrangements to take her exams.
From September 2016 we set
about real transformation under
the executive leadership of Andrew
Whitaker. I had the freedom to
appoint new senior leaders and finally
we had a team who shared the same
vision and fearlessness. Our journey to
outstanding had begun in earnest.
The journey to outstanding
Raising attainment through developing
teaching and learning became our
key focus, with developing literacy
The joy of learning
Achieving together
The new
principal and
the trust have
taken decisive
action to
strengthen the
Highlighting best practice
a close second. In September 2016,
ourexecutive principal, Andrew
Whitaker, brokered a service level
agreement with Sir John Townsley,
of the Gorse Academies Trust. This
trust is “outstanding”. Suddenly we
had access to outstanding colleagues,
people who had already travelled on
the journey we had now embarked
upon. This early foray into their world
was daunting but valuable; even
though many of the things they were
doing seemed beyond reach in the
early days, there were branches we
could grasp onto and immediate ideas
we could implement.
One of these ideas was “red zone”.
New exam specifications require high
levels of student resilience, questions
are tougher and concentration and
independence are essential. “Red zone”
aims to tackle these issues. All classes
at Leeds City Academy require students
to spend some period of the lesson in
the “red zone” where they tackle a
silent independent learning task that
stretches their thinking and pushes
the boundaries of their learning like
a rubber band. Pitching it correctly is
crucial; too far and the band will snap,
confidence destroyed. Just right and
students gain the independent learning
skills to succeed in exams, work alone
and not rely on the teachers’ constant
help and support. Red zone is having a
positive impact on student learning.
Our other teaching and learning
strategies seek to draw upon the best
national practice in core subjects. Our
wider leadership group are outward
facing in their quest to find the very best
practice in similar school communities.
One of our maths teachers writes the
infamous website “Maths Bot”.
Reducing teacher workload
Fully aware that driving any school
requires time and effort, we are
committed to reducing workload
for teachers, knowing that happy
teachers are more productive.
Ourmarkingandfeedback policy is
one example of that; cursory marking
in student books but very careful
attention to the misconceptions within
learning. These are then addressed in
specific focus lessons. This has radically
reduced the time spent on marking.
We do not grade individual teachers,
nor do we expect written lesson plans.
Teachers are afforded the professional
freedom to develop their own teaching
style, as long as they are committed
to developing their practice. Continual
professional development sessions
support this and staff are given one
lesson a week to observe and pinch
ideas from other colleagues.
We are on a mission. We are committed
to our student community and the
challenges they and their families
face. We have recently launched a
community hub, teaching English
and providing valuable support and
advice. Ofsted validated our work in
May 2017 with a very positive Requires
Improvement judgment. Since then
the 2017 results yielded a basics 4+
of 41 per cent, 27 per cent 5+ and a
Progress 8 score of 0.08. We will reach
our goal of becoming an outstanding
academy. Iam extremely proud of the
contribution of our highly talented
teachers and support staff, “Aspiring
together and achieving together”.
There is
support for
those who arrive
at the school
not speaking
English and this
quickly prepares
them to be
included in
education. This is
a good example
of the school’s
commitment to
equality of
Outstanding education
for outstanding learners


This article was sponsored by Leeds City Academy. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister