A Sunderland school and local community are celebrating A360’s best ever Ofsted report – completing a remarkable turnaround for the academy. 

[SUNDERLAND, UK, 15 July 2022] – Academy 360 was officially deemed ‘Good’ by Ofsted inspectors who praised its “aspirational” students “committed to their studies”, overseen by Principal Rachel Donohue and her dedicated teaching team showing “clear vision” and “ambition” for all students. The Pennywell school was judged “inadequate” just seven years ago, being named one of the worst performing in the country just before Ms Donohue took over as principal. 

With the strategic support of Laidlaw Schools Trust, which Academy 360 joined four years ago, its transformation has been remarkable. 

The Ofsted report says: “Academy 360 is a much-improved school where everyone is valued.

“The Principal has successfully raised expectations, both the primary and the secondary phases of the school are working well. 

“Leaders have worked hard to keep the school on an even keel through the pandemic. Staff went above and beyond to keep vulnerable pupils safe. Relationships between staff and pupils are friendly and positive.” 

Ms Donohue said: This is a historic achievement for our school and a milestone for the community of Pennywell. We recruited dynamic leaders and committed staff who have taken the school from strength to strength, supported by strong parental engagement and a relentless focus on teaching and learning. I am particularly proud of our staff who are described as tenacious, hard-working and determined. Their efforts to go above and beyond are highlighted as a strength with the result that students are increasingly aspirational and committed to their studies.”

CEO of the Laidlaw Schools Trust, Ian Simpson said, “We are delighted that everybody’s hard work and determination has been formally acknowledged.” 

Academy 360 opened in 2008 when Quarry View Primary School and Pennywell Comprehensive amalgamated to become an all-through academy and it now serves a primary phase, a secondary phase and a special phase. The academy historically had a high staff turnover and recruiting teachers was difficult due to its poor reputation. It was notorious in the local community for its low quality teaching and anti-social student behaviour. 

The school’s chair of governors, Alan Hodgson, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Academy 360 has been graded Good by Ofsted. The principal with the senior leadership team and staff – teaching and non-teaching – have all worked extremely hard especially during Covid, ensuring that all our students feel safe at school and have access to a challenging and stimulating curriculum – all of which has been recognised by Ofsted. All the staff, students and parents can rightly feel proud of this fantastic achievement. There is a real determination to succeed within our school community and as a result we can look forward to the future with confidence.” 

The school is in a community described as being amongst the most deprived in the country, with almost 70% of children eligible for free school meals. 

To read the report in full click here.


About the Laidlaw Schools Trust

Laidlaw Schools Trust is a growing multi-academy trust based in North East England that transforms the lives of children and communities through inspirational education. Founded in 2008, we now have seven nursery, primary and secondary academies in Newcastle, Sunderland and Sedgefield. Working in partnership with children, their families and the wider community, we provide a safe and nurturing environment for each child, irrespective of ability or background. We empower them to believe in themselves and to embrace the future as active, respectful and responsible citizens.

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