Ofsted inspectors visited North Devon’s first free school and noted although leadership was good, pupil’s achievement needed to improve.

North Devon’s first free school has been marked as ‘needing improvement’ in its first ever Ofsted report.

Route 39 Academy, in Higher Clovelly, was told by inspectors thats pupils’ achievements were below expectations, and that the quality of teaching needed improvement.

The leadership of the school however was given a ‘good’ rating, with the head teacher Joss Hayes and governors praised for their leadership.

Mrs Hayes said: “Although the overall grading is not as high as we would have wished for, it accurately reflects where we are on the journey.

“I am delighted that the inspector recognised the many good things about the academy and in addition agreed with us about the areas we know still require improvement.”

The inspection in May showed gaps in the student’s maths and English skills were ‘not closing quickly enough’ and their work was ‘not always marked effectively’.

Inspector Jonathan Palk said Mrs Hayes and the governors had a ‘very clear vision’ for the future of the academy and ‘relentless focus on high expectations’.

He also said students were ‘courteous, friendly and polite’ and appeared ‘happy and enthusiastic when they are in school’ with no disruptions in lessons.

Mr Palk also noted that ‘the quality of most students’ learning is improving quickly as a result of better teaching’ and positive student-teacher relationships.

Mrs Hayes added: “The last two years have been a time of intense development and growth, as well as challenge.

“The staff commitment to Route 39 Academy throughout this journey, and the passion and drive that they show day in and day out is unwavering.

“We can now build upon our strong foundations and continue our rapid rate of improvement.”

The school first opened in September 2013 and has a total of 97 students from years seven to nine.

It was refused planning permission to build a permanent site at Steart Farm in September.

The school launched an appeal against the decision, and a planning inquiry is currently underway to determine the outcome.

You can read the full Ofsted report by clicking here.