Saint Matthew Academy in Blackheath has been given a rating of “good” after its latest Ofsted inspection.
The school was only “Satisfactory”, when it received evaluation results three years ago.
In their report, Ofsted specifically noted the school’s quality leadership and its student support services. They also stated that the teaching was not only good, but that it could at times be classed as outstanding.
However, the school’s principal, Michael Barry, says that there is more to praise than just the school’s governors and staff.
“I think that it’s a summary of the hard work that individuals and groups have put into the school — ” Barry said, “from children working really hard over the last two or three years, but also the parents who have been amazingly supportive. They love this school now, and they’re very proud of it.”
Barry argues that the high GCSE results reflect the way people have stayed committed to the school from its very start five years ago.
“The first two years got 23-per cent 5 A-to-C’s, which is very low,” he said. “And in our third year we got 44-per cent and then that went to 59-percent. And then with the re-marks in English it’s over 62-per cent. But our 5 A-to-C’s is the best in Lewisham. It’s over 90-per cent 5 A-to-C’s, which puts us as the most improved school in south London and nationally in the top 2-per cent.”
Michael Cameron is a former student of the academy, who now works with the school’s media department. At 18, he also runs a music label and a production company, but said he wasn’t always on the right path.
“When I was younger, I didn’t really do well,” Cameron said. “In primary school I was at a PRU (Pupil Referral Unit), which is like a special unit for badly behaved kids.”
Michael credits the school with helping him find his way.
“The main thing was that they offered the right courses and the right experiences,” he said. “So there was like loads of activities, which kind of kept me engaged. And if they didn’t have those type of inspirational events or evenings or weekend sessions, then I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Michael also said that Barry had a large part to play in his success and the school’s success.
However, Barry doesn’t think that good is good enough. “My vision now for the future is that St Matthew Academy will become a great school,” Barry said. “And that we will be graded ‘Outstanding’ within the next three years.”