Holywells is a shining success

AWARD winning teachers, Shakespearean presentations, national athletics medallists - It's all in a day's work for Holywells High School.

Tom Potter

AWARD winning teachers, Shakespearean presentations, national athletics medallists - It's all in a day's work for Holywells High School.

The Ipswich school has been dealt some bad publicity in recent times and was last month told by education bosses in London to rapidly improve after failing to reach a benchmark in its GCSE results.

But a visit to the school reveals there's a lot more happening beneath the surface of hard targets and measurable achievement.

Behind the school gates lies a hub of after-school clubs, sporting success and student development.

Despite being rated as satisfactory by Ofsted inspectors, the school was flagged up in a national shake-up and ordered to ensure at least 30 per cent of students achieve a minimum of five GCSEs between A* and C, including maths and English.

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Three other Suffolk schools, including Chantry High, have also been told to shape up or face closure and nearly one in five secondary schools in England have received similar warnings by schools secretary Ed Balls to improve their GCSE exam results.

Terry Duffell, acting head at Holywells, thinks the objectives don't take into account the excellent work being done or the encouraging results already achieved. Especially as Holywells has some of the best results in the county when it comes to value-added progress made by pupils during their time at the school.

Mr Duffell said: “Holywells hasn't always had the best of reputations but in reality we have a lot to be proud of.

“People at Holywells appreciate that it is a rapidly improving school that provides excellent opportunities for all pupils and we are determined to continue this record of improvement that has been developing for some years.”

Holywells is part of the Building Schools for the Future programme which aims to rebuild or renew nearly every secondary school in England. The school is due either a major refurbishment or a completely new build, possibly on another site.

Mr Duffell said: “We want to become a core of the learning community and in the next few years will be investing a lot of time and energy into making that happen.

“Parents are placing their confidence in us by sending their children here and we want to do the best by them. The children can come here confident that they will get the best education experience possible.

“The staff are fabulous and we have a stability here that other schools yearn for.”

Tony Hough, assistant head, said: “In the last six years I have seen a steady rise in success at Holywells. We would obviously like the pace of the improvement to be a bit quicker but we're certainly going in the right direction.

“I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we could do it.”

- Is your child a student at Holywells? What do you think of the school? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>

- HOLYWELLS' Academic Achievers were recognised for going that extra mile during the academic year.

Year 11 students Aaron Padmore, Alice Upson, Koren Rex, James Ager and Darren Bloom were all named Academic Achievers.

Mr Clark, Year 11 Progress Manager, said: “Not only are the students high achievers but the awards are for their level of effort. The decision of who would be student of the year was almost an impossible one to make.

“They have always tried their best, whatever they have been involved in and even had time to organise the end of year prom.”

- For more on the success at Holywells, see tonight's Evening Star for a special on the school.

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