By VICTORIA LEGGETT Education correspondent
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Major improvements at two schools on the outskirts of Norwich have been recognised in this year’s league tables with them named among some of the county’s – and country’s – best performers.
Hellesdon High School was named 117th most improved in the country, having increased the number of students achieving the gold standard of at least five A* to C GCSE grades, including English and maths, from 48pc in 2009 to 72pc last summer.
Meanwhile Ormiston Victory Academy, in Costessey, saw its hard work pay off by recording the highest value added figure for the county.
The measure represents the “extra value” a school gives to its pupils in terms of the progress they make and how it compares with the expected levels of progress across the country.
Gerry Batty, headteacher at Hellesdon High, was momentarily speechless after hearing of his academy’s achievement.
Once past the shock, he said: “I know we worked really hard, like all schools – no-one wants to not do well. I’m thrilled.
“I’m thrilled for the staff, children, the parents and the governors. That’s a wonderful achievement for everyone.”
The school’s impressive turnaround was confirmed earlier this year by inspectors when they rated it good with some outstanding features just four years after being given a notice to improve.
Mr Batty said the academy had felt confident about its steady improvement and was proud of the changes it had made.
But he said he had never considered how it ranked among the rest of the country’s institutions.
“We had never had it put into that context,” he said. “That hadn’t even entered our minds.”
For Victory Academy principal Rachel de Souza, the achievement is yet further confirmation of the school’s turnaround since Costessey High was closed down and replaced by the academy.
She said: “We’re really proud of that value added score because it shows how far we have come. It shows the massive effort the staff and students and parents put in.”
The academy’s results have improved markedly since it opened in September 2010.
The principal said her team had been working to reduce the proportion of equivalent qualifications taken by students – which had been significant when it was Costessey High.
She said: “Our curriculum is very traditional. It’s not about doing equivalents. We went back to those traditional, core subjects and made sure we got those right.
“When I arrived here, as a whole, I felt the students weren’t proud enough and didn’t believe in themselves enough. What we have done is really made them feel the sky is the limit. They can work hard and there are no barriers but the ones they create themselves.
“I believe Costessey kids are brilliant.”
The principal, who will leave at the end of this academic year to concentrate on her role as chief executive of the Inspiration Trust, said this latest achievement would not be the last and the academy was determined to continue to improve. She said staff aimed to have 80pc of students achieving the government’s gold standard.
To see the league tables for all Norfolk’s schools, see today’s paper