Stone Lodge Academy in Ipswich rated ‘good’ by Ofsted
“I must have been the only headteacher in the country going home every day praying that Ofsted would come in, because we knew we were good,” says Rick Tracey.
For almost three years, the headteacher of Stone Lodge Academy, a special education needs school in Ipswich, did not have an Ofsted rating.
The school was the former Beacon Hill School, which was placed in special measures in October 2013 amid teaching and safeguarding concerns.
Mr Tracey joined a month later. Under government orders, it became an academy in February 2015, joining the Bolton-based Acorn Care and Education Group, the UK’s largest combined children’s services group. As a new school technically, did not have an official Ofsted rating.
Since then, Mr Tracey has been waiting for an Ofsted reinspection so their transformation could be recognised. This week, the education watchdog rated the school as good – overall and in all categories. “We were thrilled,” Mr Tracey said. “It has been a very long and hard journey for us.
“Our strengths are based on knowing the students so well. We can cater to their individual needs. The ethos is one of respect shown by both pupils to each other and staff to pupils. It is almost like a family atmosphere, and as pupils get older, we start preparing them for an independent life with life skills.”
He heaped praised on hard-working staff, adding: “Most of our parents are incredibly supportive. Many of them completed questionnaires for Ofsted and it came across as absolutely moving testimonies to what we have achieved.”
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From Essex to Leiston, 175 pupils aged five to 16 attend the school in Stone Lodge Lane West.
Ofsted lead inspector Stefanie Lipinski-Barltrop said Mr Tracey has been “relentless in his drive to improve provision”, pupils make “particularly strong” progress at key stage three and four, and the quality of teaching, learning and assessment has improved due to better training and higher expectations.
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She added: “The curriculum is carefully designed to meet pupils’ individual needs. It is supported by a wide range of visits and focused outdoor activities which stimulate communication.
“Pupils say that they enjoy school and feel safe.”
Mr Tracey is now aiming for ‘outstanding’. Ofsted are due to reinspect the school in another three years.