Trio of Norwich academies celebrate marked improvement after poor GCSE results last year

GCSE results day. Hellesdon High School.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

GCSE results day. Hellesdon High School.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A trio of Norwich academies which last year struggled with poor results have this year celebrated significantly improved figures.

City Academy Norwich (CAN), Open Academy and Sewell Park Academy last year saw drops in results, with their percentage of students achieving a grade four in English and maths at 34pc, 40pc and 41pc respectively.

But this year all three marked increases - for CAN, it was by nine percentage points, at Sewell it was 13 and Open Academy recorded a remarkable 20 percentage point rise.

It has been a year of change for the three - CAN left its previous sponsor, the Transforming Education in Norfolk Group, and is now supported by the Bohunt Education Trust and Sewell Park Academy had a 'requires improvement' from Ofsted - up from the inadequate rating of its predecessor school.

At Open Academy, well-known head Jon Platten retired in December, with the school currently led by acting principal Betsy Fowler and Jon Ford due to start in September.

Ms Fowler said: 'These are the best results in the history of the Open Academy with a rise of 20pc on last year, and I want to pay tribute to the students, staff and families who have worked passionately as Team Open to achieve these outstanding results. Well done to all.'

MORE: GCSE results 2018 - list of Norfolk and Waveney resultsPenny Bignell, Sewell Park head, said they were 'delighted' at results which reflected 'ongoing improvements', while Mary Sparrow, principal at CAN, said results were now moving to a place which showed students' 'true potential'.

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Elsewhere around the city, results fluctuated, in the second year of the biggest exams shake-up in years.

At Taverham High, Thorpe St Andrew High, University Technical College, Ormiston Victory and Notre Dame High, results remained relatively steady, with all schools noticing increases of up to 3pc.

Several others saw their headline figure drop, including City of Norwich School, to 68pc, Framingham Earl, to 77pc, and Hellesdon High to 63pc.

Nicola Furneaux, Framingham Earl head, said she was pleased for a 'fantastic year group'.

At the Norwich School, 100pc of students achieved grade fours or above in English and maths, the same figure as last year, while at Norwich High School for Girls, 97pc did, the same as in 2017.

'Deliberate move to a more rigorous academic curriculum'

A school which last year marked a 20 percentage point increase in its results has this year fallen by 10.

The Hewett Academy saw the remarkable improvement in last year's results, up from 34pc in 2016 to 54pc in summer 2017, bringing an end to several years of poor results.

But this year the school said its overall headline figure had fallen back down to 44pc.

Principal Rebecca Handley Kirk put the change down to a new curriculum.

She said: 'We have deliberately moved to a more rigorous academic curriculum this year, raising the number of EBacc eligible pupils from 10pc to 61pc putting us in the top 10 in the county.

'Despite new tougher courses we have some fantastic individual results, particularly in science, and our year 11 students and staff can feel very proud today.'

Celebrations at school

At Hellesdon High School, students were celebrating after weeks of nerves came to an end.

Phoebe Carter, 16, achieved a mixture of nines, eights and an A. She said: 'I've done so much better than I thought I would, I'm really happy. I'm going to stay and do sixth form here, I'll do A-levels in Chemistry, Biology and maths.'

Sixteen-year-old Abbey Harvey suffers non-epileptic seizures, which made studying difficult. She achieved a mixture of eights and sevens.

'I wasn't allowed in class so I had to learn from exercise books. It was really hard but I'm really happy and relieved with what I got,' she said.

And James Goodson, also 16, saw six nine grades when he opened his envelope.

'I've done a lot better than I expected, I thought I did well but not that well but everyone came out with better than they expected and I think it shows from the amount of work people put in what they out of it,' he said.

'I had to make sacrifices - the new GCSEs require a lot more work.'