What are the outstanding Norfolk high schools?

Simon Gilbert-Barnham, principal at Ormiston Venture Academy, with pupils

Simon Gilbert-Barnham, principal at Ormiston Venture Academy, with pupils after winning a Silver Pearson’s Teaching Award. Ormiston Academies Trust - Credit: Ormiston Academies Trust

There are 52 schools in Norfolk that are currently rated as 'outstanding' by Ofsted.

But there are just five secondary schools across the county that carry the inspection body’s top rating, while two more were rated ‘outstanding’ but have since converted into an academy and not yet been inspected since the change.  

Ofsted, or the Office for Standards in Education, inspects and rates all state schools to judge the quality of education pupils are receiving.

Its four point scale ranks from 'outstanding' to 'inadequate'. It states that an outstanding school is highly effective in “delivering outcomes that provide exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs”. 

There are 40 Norfolk primary schools and seven special or specialist schools currently judged ‘outstanding’.

Some 'recent' inspections date back more than a decade because routine inspections are carried out at schools rated 'good' or below.


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‘Outstanding’ schools had previously been exempt from inspections at regular intervals, though the government has now removed this exemption.

Pupils at Hethersett Academy

Pupils in science lesson at Hethersett Academy.  - Credit: Inspiration Trust

Hethersett Academy

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Its predecessor school, Hethersett High School and Science College, had been judged ‘inadequate’ in 2013, but it was rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted in January 2016, less than three years after it opened as an academy under the sponsorship of the Inspiration Trust. 

Inspectors said “dynamic and determined” leadership ensured it was an “exceptionally effective academy” with pupils prepared exceptionally well for a successful future.

Pupils’ behaviour and conduct were said to be exemplary, while inspectors said disadvantaged pupils made better progress at Hethersett than similar pupils nationally.

Ormiston Venture Academy is closed. Picture: James Bass

Ormiston Venture Academy was rated as 'outstanding' by Ofsted in 2013. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

Ormiston Venture Academy, Great Yarmouth

This Great Yarmouth academy opened in September 2010 in the existing buildings of the predecessor school, Oriel High, which had been judged to be ‘satisfactory’ (now termed 'requires improvement').

It subsequently moved into buildings and as part of the Ormiston Academies Trust achieved an 'outstanding' rating in May 2013.

Ofsted said GCSE results were above the national average with students with low levels of literacy enabled to achieve with gaps in their basic skills filled through intensive, personalised support.

Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form in Norwich.

Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form in Norwich was rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted in 2018. - Credit: Angela Sharpe Photography

Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, Norwich

This free school sixth form, which opened in the former Bethel Street fire station in 2013, improved from a 'good' Ofsted rating in 2015 to achieve 'outstanding' in May 2018.

Part of the Inspiration Trust, inspectors said almost all students passed their A-levels, a large proportion gaining high grades while also developing "high levels of confidence and become much more self-assured as a result of their time at Sir Isaac Newton”.

Staff were said to have "very successfully cultivated an environment where no one tolerates bullying or poor behaviour".

Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey. Picture: Bill Smith

Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey achieved an 'outstanding' rating in 2013. - Credit: Archant © 2013

Ormiston Victory Academy, Costessey

After Costessey High School converted to an academy in 2013 it achieved an 'outstanding' rating in May 2013.

Ofsted said behaviour and attendance had been transformed since its opening as part of Ormiston Academies Trust with a high standard of teaching in a 'safe' environment 'free from bullying'.

Students were “highly motivated” to achieve and made rapid progress with attainment was well above the national average.

Leadership was said to be strong at all levels and the academy has ‘well-established programmes to support students who have fallen behind’.

Students at Wymondham College with headteacher Dan Browning. 

Students at Wymondham College with headteacher Dan Browning. - Credit: Wymondham College

Wymondham College

One of only a handful of state boarding schools in the country with students from a huge range of backgrounds and challenging personal circumstances, Wymondham College was rated ‘outstanding’ at its last inspection in 2019.

Ofsted said the school was “highly effective” and provided an “environment in which children absolutely flourish”, receiving “significant help to reach their full potential”.

Inspectors noted that pupils benefited from high aspirations and in its most recent set of A-level results the college had achieved the highest children’s average point score in its history.

Mohammad Ali, 17, celebrates getting four A* with fellow medical students, Jess Scarlett, 17, left,

Thorpe St Andrew High School students celebrate A-level results in 2018. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form

Not currently rated ‘outstanding’ having converted to an academy in 2016 and not being inspected since then, but in its previous incarnation it was rated as 'outstanding' in March 2014.

Ofsted said students’ rapid progress during their time at the school and attain GCSE results that are well above average.

Classroom behaviour was said to be outstanding and attendance was above average reflecting students’ “real enjoyment of the school”.

Notre Dame High School. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Notre Dame High School is one of the most popular secondary schools in Norfolk. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Notre Dame High School, Norwich

Notre Dame High also became an academy in 2012 and has not been inspected since then, but had previously been rated as 'outstanding' in 2011. That marked significant progress having been rated as ‘good’ in 2007. 

In 2011, Ofsted said students were “not just taught how to pass examinations, but also to become reflective thinkers, with high moral standards”.

On average students were about a term ahead of the expected level for their age when they join in Year 7 and their subsequent achievement was “outstanding...attainment is well above the national average”.

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