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Hethersett rated Outstanding by Ofsted

Published on 30/01/16

Hethersett Academy has gone from special measures to being ranked as Outstanding less than three years after becoming an academy.

The school has received the highest possible rating from Ofsted, being judged Outstanding in every area.

It comes just a few days after national performance tables confirmed the school posted the best GCSE results in Norfolk for a mainstream secondary school in 2015 and ranks in the top 10pc of schools in England for the amount pupils improve.

Back in March 2013 the school - then known as Hethersett High School - was placed in special measures after Ofsted branded it inadequate.

In November 2013 the school became an academy as part of the Inspiration Trust, kicking off a dramatic turnaround.

Led by principal Gareth Stevens, the changes have seen a complete change in fortunes for pupils at the school.

"This is fantastic recognition of all the effort put in by staff to change the culture of the school, and the willingness of pupils and parents to work with us to get the best possible results," said Mr Stevens.

"We have had tremendous GCSE results, but we also have a great cultural life with music, drama and sport, and just last term our new Combined Cadet Force had its first full manoeuvres.

"The thing that really drives us is giving every child the chance to succeed and I'm delighted that Ofsted have recognised that."

Inspiration Trust chief executive Dame Rachel de Souza said the Ofsted judgement showed that Norfolk's school's can be as good as any others.

"Historically Norfolk has had low educational attainment, but we have never believed that is because our young people lack potential," she said.

"Our schools need to be places where children are given the skills and the encouragement to succeed - not just in exams but in life.

"The rapid turnaround at Hethersett shows that families in Norfolk don't have to settle for second best. They can and should have outstanding schools."

Four Ofsted inspectors carried out the review over two days in January. In their report, they praise all areas of the school.

The report says that "pupils at Hethersett Academy are prepared exceptionally well for a successful future. The overwhelming majority are very happy in the academy, and are securing excellent academic and personal achievements".

It praises the academy's balance between academic prowess and "a superb range" of extra-curricular activities like sport and the arts.

Inspectors found that staff right through the school have "an absolute conviction that all pupils can achieve well" and that the governors and leaders ensure that all pupils are encouraged to succeed.

They were impressed that "disadvantaged pupils make better progress at Hethersett than other pupils nationally because the academy ensures that they receive extensive, effective support."