Report refers to real wake-up call

Staff at a Gorleston high school have become so ticked off by pupil lateness they have issued families and carers with alarm clocks, it emerged this week.

Staff at a Gorleston high school have become so ticked off by pupil lateness they have issued families and carers with alarm clocks, it emerged this week.

Ofsted inspectors who visited Oriel High School, in Gorleston, last month praised its many improvements achieved against a background of “turbulence and staffing instability.”

Following their two day visit they had mainly good things to say about the 646-pupil school that was threatened with closure in a recent hard-hitting Government report and highlighted progress in many areas, rating it as “satisfactory” overall.

But pupil performance is let down by “weak” literary skills and further deflated by absence and lateness with alarm clocks handed out to families and carers to improve punctuality, inspectors revealed.

But inspectors also point to successes resulting from a focus on improvement in its first year of mathematics and computing specialist status.

They describe it as a satisfactory and improving school with some good features.

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The report says: “Given that many of the school's intake have low prior attainment the school enables them to achieve satisfactorily through its good curriculum and support.”

Elsewhere it praises teachers for raising aspirations with increasing numbers of students progressing to further training or education.

Inspectors judged it satisfactory across almost all the 26 categories, earning four “goods” but also one “inadequate” for attendance.

They say the school is increasingly held in high regard and note the fast pace of improvement.

Progress in some areas was particularly strong and better than most nationally and those on vocational courses are said to achieve well.

However the proportion of students who achieve five or more GCSE's at grades A to C is much lower than most other schools, with girls doing better than boys.

The curriculum is said to be good, broadened by specialist status which has also helped to stretch higher achieving students. Care and guidance is also said to be good, and bullying rare.

There is also praise for the new headteacher Paul Butler and the senior team who are said to have “made a good start to improve provision and tackle the legacy of recent turbulence at the school.” It adds: “Many changes have been made and there are early indications of improvements in standards, notably for boys and students who find learning more difficult.”

And in a letter to the children reporting inspector Ian Seath told them the school had been through difficult times but was improving. He said they could help the headteacher by improving attendance, punctuality and behaviour in class.

Chairman of governors Trevor Wainwright said he was “exceptionally pleased” and congratulated staff, parents and pupils on the “really upbeat” report.

He added that the giving out of clocks to some families was a slightly tongue in cheek approach to the problem of lateness which disrupted learning but was nevertheless supported by parents as an incentive to get students to school on time.

He said that if people were to walk round the school they would not believe that the problems they had two years ago existed. There has been such a transformation.