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‘The tide has turned’ - school celebrates after shaking off watchdog’s special measures

Acle Academy. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Acle Academy. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

A Norfolk high school has shaken off special measures after more than two years of work to turn itself around.

Acle Academy principal Helen Watts. Picture: ANTONY KELLYAcle Academy principal Helen Watts. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Acle Academy has been rated requires improvement across the board after an Ofsted visit in May, an improvement on its previous inadequate label, which saw it placed in special measures at the end of 2015.

Inspectors said: “Leaders and governors have made sufficient improvements for the school to no longer require special measures.

“They have the capacity to sustain these improvements and to continue to improve the school. However, the quality of education is not yet good.”

They said leaders were ambitious for the school and recognised “deficiencies”, but that changes could be better applied across the school.

Students, left to right, Seth Futter, Evie Brown, Harry Petherick, Sophie Blagden and Milly Dickinson, celebrating Acle Academy's new vision launch in 2017. Picture: ANTONY KELLYStudents, left to right, Seth Futter, Evie Brown, Harry Petherick, Sophie Blagden and Milly Dickinson, celebrating Acle Academy's new vision launch in 2017. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

MORE: Watchdog tells Norfolk high school it is not improving quickly enough

Improved pupil progress was praised, along with the rarity of bullying and work to improve attendance, which is now above average.

Ofsted said the school had forged strong relationships most parents, carers and pupils, with one parent telling the body “the tide has turned”.

But the watchdog said more work was needed - pupil progress varies depending on the teacher, and some teachers’ expectations of pupils could be higher.

After the 2015 inspection, the school was taken over by the Wensum Trust at the beginning of 2016, with new principal Helen Watts starting six months later.

Gerard Batty, trust chief executive, John Smith, chairman of the board of trustees, and Ms Watts said it had been a long journey, and that “very difficult decisions” had been taken along the way.

MORE: Acle school tells parents it is on ‘road to recovery’ after positive Ofsted check

They said: “We are delighted that so many areas of our school provision have improved. We’d also like to thank parents who have worked with us during this challenging time and have supported the many changes that have been made. As a learning community, Acle Academy, the Wensum Trust, students, staff, parents and governors, we are still on a journey and we have high aspirations for our academy.

“We still have our eyes firmly set on the end goal of taking the school to outstanding - however, we are pleased that we have created solid foundations to build on.”

They said, rather than a “sticky plaster quick fix”, it had been a longer-term transformation and they took pride in the “tremendous advances” made so far.

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