Outstanding Ofsted judgement confirms transformation of school previously in special measures
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A Norwich school has been rated outstanding – just four years after being in special measures.
Staff and students at the Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey are celebrating a glowing Ofsted report which declared that 'achievement is outstanding because every student matters'.
The academy opened in September 2010 and replaced Costessey High School, which had twice been put in special measures.
Ofsted inspectors said standards have risen steeply, with the proportion of students gaining at least five good GCSEs, including English and maths, rising from 38pc in 2010 to 68pc last year.
They wrote: 'The academy's relentless focus on improving teaching has underpinned its rapid improvement and the outstanding achievement of its students. Teachers know that only good or outstanding teaching is acceptable and they work extremely hard to maintain this standard.'
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Principal Rachel de Souza credited an immediate emphasis on behaviour, an 'absolute attention to detail' and getting students involved, including training some to take part in lesson observation, with the transformation.
She said: 'The one thing I was struck by when I got to know the school was how bright the students are. I have worked in inner London and I think the kids in Norfolk have huge potential and very huge aspiration. Some people say otherwise, but I think otherwise. I think they really want to achieve.'
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The report is a bright spot in Norfolk's troubled education system, which will next week see inspectors descend on County Hall after Ofsted's regional director identified an 'urgent need' for the council to better support Norfolk schools to bring about sustained improvement.
Mrs de Souza added: 'I really believe Norfolk has great teachers and has the potential for great senior teachers. The school had been in special measures twice and they were dispirited. In my first meeting I promised that we were going to be outstanding in three years, and turn it around.
'I promoted the staff that were already there and that really won hearts and minds. It's been a team effort and they have been part of it. It's not been done to them.
'I believe we can do this across Norfolk. The skills are already there.'
Mrs de Souza is chief executive of the Inspiration Trust, which includes Larkman Primary School in Norwich and the new Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form Free School, due to open in Norwich this year, and steps down as principal of the Victory Academy at the end of term.
She will be succeeded by Naomi Palmer, currently vice principal at Ormiston's Venture Academy in Gorleston.