Ofsted praise for Gorleston school’s ‘outstanding progress’

TWO years ago it was “one of the worst performing schools in the country,” but after much hard work pupils and staff are celebrating a glowing Ofsted report.

The former Oriel Mathematics and Computing College, in Gorleston, closed at the turn of the decade to be replaced by Ormiston Venture Academy in September 2010 - having previously had 13 head teachers in the space of just 15 years.

It has since gone from strength to strength, and school inspector Martin Cragg ruled that “standards have risen sharply” after a visit to the school on April 25 and 26.

The academy has now become the first sponsored academy in Norfolk to achieve “outstanding progress” on its monitoring inspection, and staff say they are delighted at the turnaround.

Principal Nicole McCartney said: “We are pleased and proud that Her Majesty’s Inspectors have noted the outstanding progress we have made.

“This has been a whole-community effort, and we all know it’s what the young people of Great Yarmouth deserve.

“Our work is not done, and will not be done until 100pc of our children are reaching their full potential.

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“We believe that this August, on results day, we will take another big step toward that goal and we look forward to our Section 5 inspection twelve months from now.”

Ms McCartney, who has been in the role since the academy’s opening, was singled out in the report for her “inspirational, highly effective leadership” which “has driven a wide range of improvements in a short period of time.”

In the Ofsted monitoring report, published on Wednesday, inspector Mr Cragg noted the vast majority of Year 11 students attained at least five A* to C grades last year.

And he wrote: “Based on their well below average starting points and the low standards achieved in the predecessor school, this is a notable achievement.”

Elizabeth Haddleton, head of creative arts at the academy, worked at the predecessor school for 30 years.

She said: “Ormiston Academies Trust saw the untapped potential here and were prepared to take a chance on a school that had experienced 13 head teachers in 15 years without any substantial change.

“Pre-academy, I questioned whether there could be a stepped change with the same children, the same parents, almost exclusively the same teaching staff, the same community and in the same buildings.

“I did not think it could be done. I was wrong, and delighted to be able to say I was.

“We needed a leader who believed in everything that we are and could be, and we got that in the new principal Nicole McCartney.”

The academy has halved fixed term exclusions, improved attendance from 86pc to 94pc, and doubled the rate of 5A* to C grades to 94pc since opening.

The gold standard measure of 5A* to C with English and maths, rose to 46pc in two terms, which was 16pc above external targets.

The senior team also received praise from the watchdog, and with an �8.1million rebuild project recently revealed the academy is on the up.