Ofsted points to progress at Hewett School as academy consultation starts
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2014
A high school at the centre of a row over government plans to turn it into an academy is making 'reasonable progress' in its fight to get out of special measures, Ofsted has said.
The Hewett School in Norwich was put on the path to conversion after inspectors found it was 'inadequate' following an inspection last October, and in March ministers said they wanted it to be sponsored by the Inspiration Trust - a plan opposed by a community campaign.
Following an Ofsted monitoring visit on May 6-7, inspector Lesley Daniel's report said: 'The school is making reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures.'
The news is a boost for the school, following a difficult few years of falling pupil numbers, a financial deficit, a failed application for government funding to repair buildings, and disappointing GCSE results.
The latest report, published on June 1, said there were 'signs of improving progress' in Year 11, the gap with pupils from poorer backgrounds who are eligible for the pupil premium was closing, and pupils behaviour in lessons and around the school was improving.
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There was particular praise for a whole-school literacy strategy, launched in January.
Ms Daniel wrote: 'Two thirds of these students have improved their reading levels, with well over one third making more than seven months of progress during six weeks of extra help in literacy.'
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Interim headteacher Phil Hearne said the literacy strategy involved four full-time literacy experts, with pupils needing help having 30 minutes of assistance every day, for six weeks.
He said it had not only helped educationally, but also improved behaviour.
He said: 'One of the things we know is that youngsters who suffer with literacy, it not only limits the progress they can make in school, but they begin to act out purely in terms of behaviour, and avoid doing the work.'
However, the report also found too many lessons are covered by temporary staff, and attendance had not improved since the October 2014 inspection.
Mr Hearne said the school had not had the capacity to focus on all issues at once, but, after more resources had been committed to it, attendance in the lower years was now improving.
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