Hastings academy told it must improve

Helenswood Academy was rated as 'requires improvement' by Ofsted
Helenswood Academy was rated as 'requires improvement' by Ofsted

A Hastings school which converted to an academy two years ago has been told it needs to improve.

Helenswood Academy, in The Ridge, St Leonards, part of the Ark group, underwent a two-day inspection in July and the findings were published on September 8.

A team of inspectors led by Clare Gillies rated the academy as ‘requires improvement’ – one step above Ofsted’s lowest score and identical to its final ranking before it took on academy status.

In her report, Ms Gillies acknowledged the work put in by Ark leaders in the past year which had ‘generated significant improvements’ but pointed out they had not led the academy efficiently or effectively during its first year.

The report added: “Weaknesses at all levels of leadership have not been fully eliminated.”

The report said a few staff had low expectations of what students could achieve, meaning their lessons were not challenging. Others did not tackle poor behaviour quickly.

Teaching in English was seen to require improvement and students had not made good progress in the subject.

Ms Gillies stated: “If leadership had been sharper last year, results would not have been so low, for example, poor leadership of one of the two English GCSEs was not spotted early enough for all students to attain the best grade they could.”

Listing Helenswood’s strengths, the report noted how staffing changes had seen middle leaders becoming more confident and effective.

Ms Gillies added: “Teaching is very effective in mathematics and students work hard and enjoy these lessons. The performing and creative arts are strong.”

In a letter home, principal Lucy Monk announced the academy would hold a meeting with parents on Thursday (September 17) to outline how the academy would work to improve over the coming year, in line with the issues highlighted in Ofsted’s report.

The meeting will be attended by senior staff, as well as Ark Hastings regional director Mark Phillips.

She said staff would be: “Working to ensure further improvements will be embedded into our daily life here at Ark Helenswood, so that we can ensure that all students, no matter what their academic starting point on entry to the academy, can make exemplary progress through great teaching”.

The academy’s efforts to improve were noted in Ms Gillies’ report.

She said: “Most staff are now working hard to establish a culture in which good teaching, behaviour and relationships are the norm, every day.”

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