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Great Yarmouth High School could become latest member of Inspiration Trust chain of academy schools

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 April 2014

Dame Rachel de Souza Photo: Bill Smith

Dame Rachel de Souza Photo: Bill Smith

Archant

Great Yarmouth High School could become the latest secondary to a join a high-powered Norfolk academy trust.

The school, which Ofsted inspectors last year rated “requires improvement”, is in negotiations to join the Inspiration Trust, whose first school was the Great Yarmouth Primary Academy.

The trust is sponsored by Theodore Agnew, the chairman of the Department for Education’s Academies Board, and its chief executive is Dame Rachel de Souza, who has close links with education secretary Michael Gove.

The Inspiration Trust’s other high schools are Thetford Academy, Cromer Academy and Hethersett Academy, as well two Norwich free schools - the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form and the Jane Austen College, which is set to open in September.

Wendy Missons, headteacher of Great Yarmouth High, said: “We are determined to become an academy and have spent a long time looking at the options to make sure we make the right decisions.

“The school is going from strength to strength and joining a strong local chain will help us drive up standards even faster than we are now.

“Governors met just before the Easter holiday and have agreed they want to have discussions with Inspiration Trust, who have an exceptional track record, but nothing is finalised.

“We need to consult with our staff, students and community and to have the support of the school’s foundation. It is early days yet.”

Dame Rachel said Inspiration was interested in sponsoring the high school because 80pc of Great Yarmouth Primary Academy pupils progress there.

She said: “The first school we sponsored was Great Yarmouth Primary Academy, and because of that we are committed to all the children of Great Yarmouth and have an interest in their future.

“We have always been very keen to work with Great Yarmouth High and we are in discussions with them about being their sponsor, but it’s early days.”

She said the discussions about another school joining Inspiration were not part of a strategy of taking on ever-more schools.

She added: “We are not particularly interested in growth and we consider any opportunity as it arises. What we are most concerned about is making sure that every one of our schools gets to ‘outstanding’.

“There’s a geographic logic to the trust and a logic to not being too large. We are not like a national chain.”

Last year’s Ofsted report, the high school was told there was not enough good and outstanding teaching, standards were below national average, and not enough students attend regularly.

However, it also said the percentage of pupils gaining five good GCSE grades, including maths and English, had risen, and students’ behaviour had improved.

Is this the best option? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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