School shakes off special measures to be rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted

Lorraine Clarke, executive principal of Ark Blacklands, celebrating with her pupils. SUS-160612-095813001
Lorraine Clarke, executive principal of Ark Blacklands, celebrating with her pupils. SUS-160612-095813001

A primary school in Hastings has turned around an ‘inadequate’ rating to be deemed outstanding in all categories by Ofsted.

Ark Blacklands in Hastings was put into special measures after a damning report in February 2014. Later that year, it became part of the ARK academy network in a bid to raise standards - with resounding success.

The primary academy was visited by Ofsted inspectors on November 1 and 2, 2016 and was given the top rating in all five categories; effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare; outcomes for pupils and early years provision.

Lorraine Clarke, executive principal of Ark Blacklands, said: “We’re thrilled that Ofsted has endorsed the hard work of everyone at Ark Blacklands. I’d like to thank staff, parents and pupils for their dedication and commitment in making Ark Blacklands a success and I’m proud to say that our school has the best Ofsted rating in Hastings.”

National Ofsted data shows that of nearly 4,400 schools currently rated as ’outstanding’, only 11 have managed to achieve this result despite an ‘inadequate’ grading at its previous inspection.

The Ofsted report said: ‘The executive principal is single-minded in her belief that all pupils deserve the very best education and opportunities in life. This is an ideal platform for the school to build on the excellent work it has already started in this area.”

It added: ‘The curriculum is broad and balanced, inclusive and enriched because of the extensive range of subjects and extended activities the school offers.”

On the subject of the school’s pupils, the inspector said: “Pupils flourish because they are extremely well looked after in a nurturing environment that is entirely focused on their academic and emotional needs. Hence, pupils are compassionate to each other and they, along with staff, model British values extremely well.

“Pupils’ behaviour is outstanding. They are polite, considerate and mature, both in their attitudes to each other and in their approach to learning.”

The full Ofsted report can be found online at

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