Derbyshire school on track for 'outstanding' Ofsted rating, inspectors say

Staff at a Derbyshire school are ‘delighted’ after being told it has the potential to be judged oustanding by Ofsted in a recent inspection report.

Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 10:39 am

Heanor Gate Spencer Academy was visited by the education watchdog on May 4 and 5.

It is the first time the school, which is part of the Spencer Academies Trust, has been inspected since it was rated ‘good’ in March 2017 and Ofsted will then usually visit a setting every four years to confirm it remains at that level.

Called a section 8 inspection, these visits are not graded but if there is evidence the school might now receive a higher or lower grade, its next full inspection – a section 5 – will allow that rating to change.

Heanor Gate Spencer Academy Ofsted. Steve Huntington executive principal. Agata Zola, Jake Marshall, Neave Fletcher-James, Kurt Williams and Matt Jones vice principal.

In their latest report, Ofsted inspectors said: “Heanor Gate Spencer Academy continues to be a good school.

"There is enough evidence of improved performance to suggest that the school could be judged outstanding if we were to carry out a section 5 inspection now.”

During the inspection in May, the academy was recognised for having an “ambitious curriculum” that is delivered well and for having an ethos that “unites staff, pupils and their families as ‘team Heanor’.”

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Positive feedback around assessments and pupil knowledge was also emphasised, with inspectors noting how the school makes “effective use of assessment to check what pupils know and can do” and how teachers “identify gaps in pupils’ knowledge and plan effectively to fill them.”

The Ofsted report continued: “This school is a strong learning community where all are on a mission to ‘aspire, learn and achieve’.

"Pupils said that they are happy and feel safe here. Pupils want to learn and they behave very well. They have warm, respectful relationships with staff and each other. Bullying is not tolerated.

“Leaders and staff are determined to enhance the lives and life chances of all pupils in this school.

"They have designed a curriculum that is ambitious for all pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). The curriculum is challenging."

The inspection team further acknowledged that pupils have many extra-curricular opportunities including “bands, basketball, Side by Side (the school’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans peer support group), and the Combined Cadet Force.”

Steve Huntington, Executive Principal of Heanor Gate Spencer Academy said: “I am delighted with the outcome and the national recognition this will bring.

"The whole community, staff, students and external partners bought into the vision and culture that I wanted to drive forward when appointed and I sincerely hope that every single individual can take pride in the report and celebrate their own unique part.

"This is not the end of the journey but a new phase of further improvement and as a school, we will continue to make sure that we get even better over the coming years and support education more widely, both locally and nationally.

"To clarify, as this was a Section 8 inspection, the overall judgement of the school could not change immediately.

"Instead, the report recognised that the school could have been judged outstanding if we had been inspected under a more rigorous section 5 inspection, and therefore Ofsted will carry out a section 5 inspection within 24 months to allow us to prove that we are truly an outstanding school.”

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