A DAMNING Ofsted report has seen the John Madejski Academy (JMA) placed in 'special measures' as inspectors downgrade its ranking to 'inadequate'.

However Nicola Maytum the academy's principal said the ruling painted an "inaccurate picture" of life in their school.

The Government's education watchdog found failings in the leadership and said that many pupils were "underachieving" in key subjects such as English, maths and science.

Teachers were said to have taken little account of students' learning needs and they were not provided with enough of a challenge to spur on improvements.

Among the criticisms it was noted that work to address low attendance was starting to bear fruit and that PE, history and geography all benefitted in isolation from good teaching.

A team of inspectors visited the JMA in Hartland Road, Whitley from November 10 for two days.

The report, published on Monday, read: "Underachievement has become endemic in core areas of the curriculum.

"Leaders have not brought about necessary improvements since the previous inspection.

"Some important key aspects have declined. Consequently, leaders do not demonstrate the capacity to improve the academy."

It also highlighted the low expectations of pupils which included Year 8 students being given work "at a level usually expected in primary schools".

Back in 2014 the academy was ranked as 'requires improvement' when inconsistencies in teaching and high staff turnover were noted.

Ofsted recommended that external reviews should take place into the academy's use of pupil premium and its governance and that newly qualified teachers are not hired in the near future.

The report ranked JMA as 'inadequate' in three of the five categories with the sixth form and personal development, behaviour and welfare each being rated 'requires improvement'.

Nicola Maytum, principal, said: "Staff and governors feel that the report overall paints an inaccurate picture of life in our school.

"We have 70 per cent of the same students, the same principal and largely the same senior leadership team and governing body as we had at our 2013 inspection when we were judged as having made significant improvements with demonstrable capacity to continue to improve the quality of education rapidly.

"The academy works in a community where attainment at primary school is in the lowest 10 per cent nationally.

"Many of our students have struggled to achieve at primary school and find the transition to secondary school difficult. It is vitally important that we work ever more closely with our feeder schools and other agencies to ensure that all children achieve from the outset."

However Ms Maytum added the team was confident it could make improvements and had already begun to implementing improvement plans.