Thetford Academy retains Ofsted ‘Good’ rating but told to tackle pupil absences
PUBLISHED: 14:20 18 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:01 18 January 2019
Angela Sharpe Photography
One of Norfolk’s biggest schools has retained its ‘Good’ rating from Ofsted but has been told to do more to address persistent absences by pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Thetford Academy was visited by school inspectors in November, with Ofsted spending a day at the school watching lessons and talking to pupils and staff.
The school - part of the Inspiration Trust - was judged ‘Good’ in December 2014, and the fresh inspection confirmed the rating though the inspection body advised the school of priorities for improvement and said its next visit will be a full inspection.
In her report letter, lead inspector Diana Osagie praised new principal Dan Carter, who joined the school in September.
“Since your appointment as principal, you have acted swiftly and decisively to address a decline in standards,” she said. “Working with school leaders, you quickly identified the strengths and priorities for improvement and have the support of the vast majority of parents, staff and pupils
“Pupils and staff spoke appreciatively about the improvements in culture and ethos. Standards of behaviour had significantly declined and many pupils and parents said this was a great concern. You have introduced strong classroom and corridor routines, which ensure that pupils are able to enjoy their lessons with fewer interruptions.
“The number of pupils sanctioned for poor behaviour has risen sharply but this reflects the high standards that are now expected.”
After its last inspection improving the attendance of pupils from a disadvantaged background had been identified as an area for improvement and the letter states overall attendance has declined during the last three years and continues to do so.
Ms Osagie said: “The attendance of pupils from a disadvantaged background remains lower than that of their peers. Leaders are working hard to halt this decline, but they acknowledge that their efforts are yet to impact on the proportion of pupils who attend school regularly. It is important that this area is addressed and the decline is rectified.”
The letter also recommended the school focus on continuing to improve standards in English, and help for disadvantaged pupils. But it backed recent improvements to the curriculum, support from the Inspiration Trust, and the work of school governors.
Principal Dan Carter said: “I am pleased that the school has retained its Good rating, and particularly glad that the inspectors praised our students for their politeness and their hard work.
“The recommendations of the inspection team match with the improvement plans we already have in place. It is important for the whole Thetford community that the school does well, and we are working hard to ensure that pupils get the best possible education.”