Big boost for Norwich academy school

Steve DownesNorwich's first academy has been boosted by a big increase in pupils as it prepares to move into its landmark �21m building, the Evening News can reveal.Steve Downes

Norwich's first academy has been boosted by a big increase in pupils as it prepares to move into its landmark �21m building, the Evening News can reveal.

The Open Academy will have at least 101 youngsters joining in year seven in the amphitheatre-style building in September - more than one-quarter up on the 79 who joined in 2009/10.

The news was revealed by Open Academy's new principal, Jon Platten, as he told the Evening News of his ambitious plans for the school.

In his first interview since taking over three weeks ago, he predicted great things for the school, which he labelled an 'awakening giant'.

He said he was determined that all children at Open Academy could 'unleash their potential', and added that there was 'genius' among the staff already at the school.

Mr Platten was recruited from his role as headteacher of Alderman Peel High at Wells, which he led to an 'outstanding' Ofsted report while overseeing big improvements in GCSE results during four-and-a-half years at the helm.

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He said he was glad to take on the fresh challenge, and added: 'It's a school with huge potential. It's an awakening giant, not a sleeping giant. The opportunity to lead a school which is clearly going somewhere, with a fresh and dynamic vision and a wonderful building to move into was an opportunity for which I had to put myself forward.'

Mr Platten said: 'It was hugely difficult to leave Alderman Peel High, having done nine years there, which is the longest I had stayed in one place. It had a real family feel to it and the people were fantastic.

'Moving to Open Academy has been a big process, but what has helped is that there are some really talented, committed and fantastic people here. There's genius here - some really creative, driven, focussed, supportive people, all of whom have the best interests of the children at heart. At the same time it's a huge task.'

He said he was still 'finding out how things operate', but was keen to 'develop things like student responsibility and a consistent approach to teaching and learning'.

The Norwich-born principal also has a strong foundation to build on at Open Academy, which last year saw the percentage of students getting five A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths, double from 16pc to 32pc.

Mr Platten said: 'I want Open Academy to be a centre of excellence. My vision is that things will be done in a particular way, which transforms schools. I believe in things like respect and responsibility, enterprise and innovation.

'I want to see a continued rise in the academic standards, while maintaining the view that every child can succeed. We've got robust data that suggests the phenomenal improvement in last year's results at year 11 will continue this year.'

He was keen to stress his determination to work closely with neighbouring schools to develop strong collaborative working.

And he added: 'I'm in the profession to make a difference. I want to make sure young people get the best possible deal and are treated with respect and dignity and can unleash their potential.'

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FACTFILE for Jon Platten

t Married with two teenaged children

t Born at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

t Brought up in Cromer and Sheringham

t Achieved a scholarship to Gresham's School in Holt at the age of 13

t Had a year out at 18, working in the catering industry in Norwich and Cromer to earn money to get through university

t Read history at Durham University

t Took his postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) at Cambridge University

t First teaching job, lasting seven-and-a-half years, was as a history teacher in a secondary school on the Isle of Man

t Mr Platten became second in charge of history, then head of humanities, at a large comprehensive school in Milton Keynes, where he remained for five years

t There followed a five-year stint as head of humanities at a 2,000-pupil comprehensive in Hull

t In 2001, he became deputy head at Alderman Peel High in Wells, Norfolk

t In September 2005, he was appointed head of the same school

t In April this year, Mr Platten took the reins as principal of Open Academy in Norwich.