April 18 2014 Latest news:
, Education correspondent
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
A former failing school in Norwich has made outstanding progress and transformed itself in less than two years, according to inspectors.
Ormiston Victory Academy, which replaced Costessey High School in September 2010, had its first monitoring visit from Ofsted three weeks ago.
Less than two years after the struggling school – which was on special measures at the time – was closed, the academy has been lavished with praise and found to be making outstanding progress.
In his report inspector Stephen Abbott highlights the Middleton Crescent school’s “remarkable improvements”.
He added: “Students’ academic achievements and personal development have benefited considerably from the strengthening of every element of provision, including care, support and guidance, the curriculum, teaching and administration.
“The academy’s capacity to improve, which is amply demonstrated by the speed and scale of its own transformation, is also evident in the support it is now providing for other schools.”
Students and staff at the school have been beaming with pride since the visit but were not allowed to announce the glowing judgement until the final report was officially published today.
Rachel de Souza, academy principal who was brought in to transform the school, said: “I’m really proud of how this school has worked as a team and gone from special measures to an outstanding judgement in such a short time.
“It’s a real success story about a school that has improved itself.”
Victory Academy was opened in September 2010 with the majority of the same staff members from Costessey High. Most of the senior staff had left beforehand and Mrs de Souza chose to promote from within the school – creating a new senior team from the existing teachers.
She also brought in 16 newly-qualified teachers to help with the transformation.
Mrs de Souza said: “It’s testimony that things can change and improve – schools in trouble can be turned around.”
Ofsted’s monitoring report praised all areas of the academy from the achievement of pupils and quality of teaching to the behaviour of pupils and the quality of the leadership.
Inspectors commented on the “remarkable increase” in examination results, lessons that engaged students, and a culture “based on high aspiration, praise and mutual support”.
Students in years seven and eight have gone from being two-terms behind their peers at other schools to being above average in reading, writing and mathematics.
The report also lavished praise on Mrs de Souza. It said: “The principal’s inspirational leadership has transformed her academy. Her high aspirations and unequivocal expectations are implemented by ensuring that all staff pay close attention to every detail.”
Mrs de Souza said she knew the academy was still a “work in progress” – something recognised by inspectors who noted some pupils still struggled to conform to the new expectations on attendance, appearance and behaviour – and said her focus was now to get an outstanding judgement in the school’s first full inspection next year.
“We are in no way complacent,” she said. “This has inspired us to do even better.”
Alison Thomas, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children’s services, said: “I am delighted to see Ormiston Victory making such outstanding progress, so quickly. This is testament to the fact that well-supported sponsored academies are making a difference for young people in Norfolk.
“Such things don’t happen without a great deal of determined effort and hard work so congratulations to all those connected with Ormiston Victory.”