Proud day for students as Ormiston Victory Academy opens in Costessey

A day of celebration has been held by students, teachers and sponsors to mark the official opening of a new academy in Costessey.

Yesterday's launch day at Ormiston Victory Academy, formerly Costessey High School, included speeches by the principal and sponsors, as well as the newly chosen head boy, head girl and principal students.

An oak grove was planted and there were musical performances by students from the academy and from Queens Hill Primary School in Costessey, including a rendition of Be Our Guest from the school's upcoming show.

New principal Rachel de Souza said: 'The academy has come from the community, is in the community, and exists for the community.

'We are committed to excellent teaching and learning, and we are working with local primary schools to ensure a complete pathway for children from three years old to 19 when they leave.

'The school is open for learning from 6am until 10pm every day, with breakfast clubs and evening classes, and we want it to become a hub for learning 24/7.'

Last week, the �2.8m Luke Day block opened, with new ICT classrooms and facilities, and the academy submitted a bid for money for a complete new school building.

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Mrs de Souza added that although the spending review might mean less funding for the academy's proposed new buildings, she was determined to build a school that would serve the community for the next 70 years.

Ormiston Victory Academy is named after Admiral Nelson's flagship, in which he won the Battle of Trafalgar, and despite some controversy over the omission of Costessey, Mrs de Souza said the school was proud of its new identity.

'We wanted a strong name that would inspire students and Victory is a good Norfolk name with its links to Nelson,' she said.

The new academy has brought in new measures to help reach an ambitious target of all students gaining five A* grades at GCSE, including maths and English.

The measures include the appointment of 21 new members of staff, new uniforms and a dress code forbidding trainers, jewellery and extreme haircuts, and introducing four colleges named Courage, Discovery, Endeavour and Enterprise, which will compete in sports.

All students now stay on site for lunch and can come to school early for a cooked breakfast and reading of morning newspapers.

The school has also adopted a new 'respect charter', requiring students to stand up and be silent when adults enter classrooms, and introducing etiquette lessons for year-seven pupils. Mrs de Souza added: 'Students do not just learn good manners here, but the respect and the dedication to caring that comes at the root of that.'

Students expressed their pride in their new uniforms, designed by a Saville Row tailor, saying they felt more responsible and more respected, and that they hoped the outside world would begin to see the school was changing for the better. Peter Murray, chairman of the Ormiston Trust, and David Prior, chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Trust, which is co-sponsoring the academy, both spoke of their pride at the new school and their hopes for its future, and Norfolk County Council chairman Tony Tomkinson presented the school with a limited-edition print of the HMS Victory.

An oak grove was planted at the front of the school, with Mr Murray, Mr Prior, Mr Tomkinson, businessman Graham Dacre, councillor Jeremy Savage, and MP Richard Bacon adding the final shovels of soil to the six young trees.

Mr Bacon said: 'Students need good examples to follow and they need the belief and support of the community, and they need to be told that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to. It has been a tremendous day for the school and the whole community.'

Do you have an education story? Call reporter Steve Downes on 01263 513920 or email