First Inspiration Trust free school rated ‘good’ after Ofsted inspects Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form

Lord Nash, education minister, visits the former fire station in Bethel Street to start the construc

Lord Nash, education minister, visits the former fire station in Bethel Street to start the construction work for the Sir Isaac Newton Free School. Lord Nash, 2nd left, with Theodore Agnew, left; Rachel de Souza; and principal Mark Evans. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

The first free school opened by the Inspiration Trust chain of academies has been rated 'good' across the board by Ofsted inspectors.

The Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form Free School, which specialises in maths and science, opened in September 2013, and is housed in the former fire station on Bethel Street, Norwich.

The inspectors, who visited on March 3-6, wrote: 'Managers and teachers use exciting and innovative ways to develop successfully the science and mathematics curriculum and ethos, including close liaison with industry, higher education institutions and other local and regional providers.'

The report, published today, said most students are making good progress, teaching is good and promotes students' self-confidence, and students' attitudes to learning and ability to work collaboratively are excellent.

However, the inspectors also found the proportion of students who successfully completed AS-level qualifications was 'not high enough', personal tutors and subject teachers 'do not work closely enough together to help students to make the very best progress', and too little teaching and assessment was outstanding.

The report also noted a gap between the performance of male students, who 'exceeded expectations', and the smaller number of female students who 'under-performed in a number of subjects including physics and geography'.

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However, the report said the gap is starting to close after managers introduced 'sensitive and proportionate measures' to address it.

The sixth form initially opened in temporary office accommodation in Cattle Market Street, because of delays securing planning permission for the fire station, and currently has 172 students.

The report said: 'The headteacher and governors have successfully established an ambitious vision to become a science and mathematics centre of excellence, but progress towards meeting this vision was not fast enough in the sixth form's first year.

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'Managers have made improvements rapidly and effectively to resolve the concerns they and governors identified, although they have not fully implemented a few improvements.'

The 'large majority' of students due to complete their A-levels this summer have received offers from their first choice universities, with more than a third coming from high-performing Russell Group institutions.

The sixth form is the third school to be rated 'good' since joining the Inspiration Trust, following Great Yarmouth Primary Academy and Thetford Academy.

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Read the Ofsted report in full

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