Sewell Park College reveals its new name as Ofsted notes further progress at the school

New head of Sewell Park College Penny Bignell. Pictured with John Catton, chairman of the school's I

New head of Sewell Park College Penny Bignell. Pictured with John Catton, chairman of the school's Interim Executive Board. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A city high school's choice of a name when becomes an academy in September is a sign of how much it has improved its reputation over the past year, its interim chair of governors has said.

Flashback: Blyth-Jex School - a name that will not be returning

Flashback: Blyth-Jex School - a name that will not be returning - Credit: © Eastern Counties Newspapers

The news that Sewell Park College will be known as Sewell Park Academy when it is taken over by the Right for Success Trust came as a new Ofsted monitoring report praised continued progress the school is making.

The school has had a troubled recent history, with GCSE results below the government's minimum standard for two years, and in November it was placed in special measures. The school had considered abandoning the Sewell Park brand, but John Catton, chairman of the interim executive board (IEB), which replaced the school's governors last July, said: 'We have started changing the image and feel and reputation over these 12 months, by working with the whole community, and I think there's no reason not to keep the name and continue with the process of improvement.

'There's plenty to do yet, and the proof of the pudding will be in the results this year and next, and I'm genuinely optimistic about it.'

The new Ofsted letter, from senior inspector Paul Brooker, followed his visit on July 7-8, and said the school was 'making reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures'.

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It added: 'Progress and achievement are improving across the school although, understandably, a disproportionate effort has been invested in raising standards for students in Year 11, with a well-coordinated campaign of additional support and intervention.'

Mr Brooker said teaching had improved since the previous inspection, but still remained too variable, and pupils said the school 'has been stricter this year', and believed that was good.

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The report praised the IEB as 'strong', and added: 'The local authority's robust challenge to school leaders over the last 18 months has engineered the school's transformation.'

The school's permanent new head Penny Bignell started in April, and the report said confidence in the school's leadership was reflected in the 'much more positive views expressed by parents and students', adding a much larger proportion of parents would now recommend the school.

Mr Catton said: 'We have come a long way since 12 months ago, when we were in a fairly deep place, really: low morale, low results, a headteacher about to go. We have been able to achieve a lot by working together within the year.'

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