Norwich high school told it has overcome ‘legacy of underachievement’ in first report since becoming an academy
PUBLISHED: 14:56 24 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:14 24 April 2018
A Norwich high school has been told it has overcome a “legacy of underachievement” in its first watchdog inspection since becoming an academy.
Ofsted visited the Hewett Academy in March, rating it good overall and in four out of five categories, with its sixth form provision rated as requiring improvement.
It is the school’s first visit since it became an academy with the Inspiration Trust in 2015, having been rated inadequate and put into special measures the year before. It was a controversial process, with protests and a campaign against the move.
In the new report, inspectors said: “Leaders, governors and trustees have established a culture of high expectations. The quality of teaching, learning and assessment has improved rapidly and is good.”
They praised principal Rebecca Handley Kirk, who they said is “passionately ambitious” for the school.
They noted that the number of exclusions has dropped, behaviour of pupils is “respectful”, and absence, while still too high, has reduced.
And they said while GCSE results in 2016 - when just 37pc of pupils secured an A* to C in English and maths - had been “unacceptably low”, a “rigorous” approach to holding leaders to account had seen a marked improvement.
In certain areas, though, they said teachers needed to challenge pupils more, with some lower-attaining pupils making uneven progress, particularly in maths.
Looking at the school’s sixth form, the report said: “Students studying vocational courses have not achieved as well as they should have. Previous guidance has not always ensured that students have followed courses that best matched their abilities and interests.”
Last November, the Inspiration Trust revealed it would be launching new sixth form courses - BTEC Plus programmes, where students study a two-year BTEC and optional matched A-level - from this September.
Inspectors said leaders had recognised programmes were not strong enough, with students who completed vocational qualifications at the academy coming in the lowest 20pc nationally in 2016 and 2017.
Mrs Handley Kirk said: “Overall this is a report that I am incredibly proud of, and all our students should be too. “To achieve a good rating in our first inspection as an academy is a real achievement, and reflects the fantastic community spirit at the school and all hard work of our students, families, staff, and the wider school community.
“The inspectors made some suggestions about improving our sixth form. We recognised the need to change some months ago, which is why we are introducing a radical new approach with our BTEC Plus courses from September 2018 that offer a new approach for students in Norfolk.”