Eastgate Academy graded ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted

Eastern Multi-Academy Trust are delighted to announce that, following a recent inspection, Ofsted has graded Eastgate Academy “outstanding” in all areas, stating that “pupils receive both an outstanding academic education and highly effective support for their emotional well-being”.

It is a very rare occasion that a school is raised three judgements in its first full inspection since being placed in special measures. It is even more infrequent that a school receives “Outstanding” in all areas of review. There are currently only six schools in the country (open and operating), who have made the jump from special measures to outstanding in consecutive inspections, Eastgate Academy becoming the seventh, and the first school to have done this in Norfolk.

The news comes just weeks after we announced that Nelson Academy in Downham Market – another of our primary academies – received “Good” in all areas, again making the jump from special measures in consecutive inspections.

The report highly praises Principal Linda Hothersall for her leadership style, pointing out how “she reinforces the importance of education in transforming the lives of the school’s pupils”. Mrs Hothersall is understandably overjoyed with the outcome and has praised staff, governors and students alike.

She said: “I think the best word to describe how I felt at the time was gobsmacked. I came out of the room and it was just the most surreal feeling.

“The journey to outstanding has been a whole community effort. Staff, students, parents and governors alike have shaped this academy into the ‘Outstanding’ learning provision it is today. It’s down to everyone, from the Trust to the helpers and the grandparents who come in and sit and listen to readers.”

The report noted how many parents expressed their “overwhelming satisfaction with the school”. Noting how, in particular, the parents and guardians of pupils with complex needs described the exceptional educational and emotional support provided by the school.

“Eastern Multi-Academy Trust has given us such good support over the last three years. We are the same staffing body that were here before, I am not a new principal. We have just worked really, really hard and it’s paid off. I am absolutely thrilled that the inspectors agreed with what we had suggested. We knew we could do it.”

“The work ethic in the children is inspirational. They just want more and more; the younger ones even ask us for extra homework. It’s not just the in-class curriculum that is shaping our children, we take them out on trips to see what’s beyond their doorstep. Our most recent residential trip was to Cheddar Gorge and we’ve also recently took the students to Ely on the train.”

Inspectors were particularly impressed by the ‘life skills’ lessons, in which children learn practical skills necessary for a healthy lifestyle, through a range of activities such as knitting, cooking and caring for animals. The report said that the principal emphasises the importance of a curriculum that raises standards alongside teaching pupils practical skills necessary for healthy lives. The inspector spoke to pupils about the birds, rabbits and guinea pigs in the school. They demonstrated their detailed understanding of how to care for animals and of how this also benefited them emotionally and socially.

Key points from the report were:

  • The principal, assistant principals and governors have worked relentlessly to ensure improvements in outcomes for all pupils. As a consequence of their effective actions, teaching, learning and assessment and outcomes for pupils throughout the school are outstanding.
  • Pupils are impeccably well behaved. They are kind, courteous and respectful of other pupils and adults. Pupils are encouraged to consider how their behaviour affects others. Consequently, pupils are able to regulate their behaviour and resolve barriers to learning.
  • Leaders, teachers and teaching assistants have very high expectations and aspirations for pupils. As a result, pupils are very focused, intellectually curious and eager to learn.
  • One-to-one provision for reading, writing and mathematics is a particular strength of the school, enabling the most vulnerable pupils to make accelerated progress.

Principal Linda Hothersall added: “The good thing that the inspectors witnessed was that no children were left behind. We expect the same for all of our children and we will do the very best for them, no matter their ability. We are now aiming to push our results up even further, to be in the top 1% nationally. We’re already in the top 10% overall, and top 1% for writing, so why stop there?”

Dr Duncan Ramsey, Chief Executive of Eastern Multi-Academy Trust, said: “On behalf of Eastern Multi-Academy Trust, I would like to congratulate all at Eastgate for this tremendous recognition of what a special place Eastgate Academy has become.

“To be graded outstanding in every area is a significant achievement and shows how hard the whole community has worked over the last three years. I am particularly pleased that Ofsted have recognised how well the academy cares for its children alongside the really high academic results.”

Melanie Wellard, Chair of Governors for the academy, said: “I have been Chair of Governors of both Nelson Academy and Eastgate Academy since they first became part of Eastern Multi-Academy Trust. I had just got used to the excitement of Nelson Academy being judged ‘Good’ before Christmas and then received this excellent news of Eastgate being awarded the totally well-deserved ‘Outstanding’ judgement.

“At Eastgate, I have the very special privilege of working with an amazing team of people who are extremely dedicated, talented and caring and who continually strive to be the very best they can be for the sake of the children of their community. They have never had any other goal than to be Outstanding in everything they do and in my mind they most definitely are.”