School in Ipswich takes 'decisive action' to make rapid improvements

A student at Stoke High School in Ipswich has tested positive for coronavirus Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Stoke High School in Ipswich said it was 'really pleased with the outcome of our latest Ofsted inspection' - Credit: RACHEL EDGE

A school in Ipswich has been praised for taking "decisive action" to rapidly improve - with "literacy mastery" classes and a "steep upward trajectory" on attendance among its achievements.

Stoke High School - Ormiston Academy had been given a "requires improvement" rating twice in a row by education regulator Ofsted.

In its last full inspection in 2018, assessors said Year 11 pupils were not making enough progress and that children with special educational needs "are not being well supported to make the progress of which they are capable".

But after a monitoring visit earlier this year, inspectors praised the dramatic change led by principal Andrew Robinson, who took the helm in September 2019.

With half of Stoke High's teachers having joined since 2018, inspector Andrew Hemmings told Mr Robinson: "You have taken decisive action to strengthen provision at the school.

"You set clear expectations of what you expect from subject leaders. You asked them to identify what core knowledge it was essential for pupils to know about their subjects."

Vice-principal Karen Baldwin even invented "Freda", a fictional teacher arriving at the school at short notice - and set staff the task of having such a clear curriculum that she would know what to teach immediately.

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There is also now a "whole school approach to helping pupils remember what they have been taught" and a new library area, with "literacy mastery" sessions to help children catch up on reading and writing.

However, work on improving the curriculum is "not finished", Mr Hemmings said, with maths "not as far advanced" as English.

Mr Hemmings added that "provision of education for pupils with SEND is not as good as it needs to be" and said that even though staff have been given information on how to help pupils, not enough of them use it.

"This means pupils do not get the help they need to learn as well as they should," he said.

But a new, clearer set expectations is helping to improve behaviour at Stoke High, while attendance has been described as being on a "steep upward trajectory" - even if the coronavirus pandemic has made this harder.

More staff now work with pupils to improve their attendance, with every absentee telephoned on days they are off and a minibus providing transport to school.

Mr Robinson said: “We are really pleased with the outcome of our latest Ofsted inspection and report, which once again recognises the positive action we are taking to drive further improvements across the board at the academy, for the benefit of our students and the high-quality educational opportunities they receive. 

“The hard work of so many of those involved in our improvement journey was rightly recognised in the report, and I would like to thank all our students, staff, parents/carers, the trust and governors and wider school community for their support in helping us achieve this latest outcome. 

“There is of course much more still to be done, and we remain unwavering in our commitment to driving further improvements and raising standards even higher, but it is a brilliant way to start the new academic year and further confirmation of the positive trajectory we are on.” 

Aron Whiles, regional director east at Ormiston Academies Trust, said: “It is excellent that the effective and carefully planned action taken by Andrew and the wider team at Stoke High School has been recognised so positively in its latest Ofsted report. 

“We have been working closely with the school to help drive further improvements in a number of focus areas, the positive outcomes of which are already very clear to see. 

“We very much look forward to continuing to work closely with the everyone at Stoke High School as it continues to go to from strength to strength, as Ofsted have rightly confirmed today.”