A Forest of Dean School has been awarded its first ever ‘good’ Ofsted report following a huge transformation under new leadership. Five Acres High School in Coleford was rebranded after a particularly damning inspection in 2015 – when it was known as Lakers School – deemed it ‘inadequate’ in all areas.
Since then, as well as being renamed, the school has a new headteacher in the form of former pupil Simon Phelps, who took over at the helm in March 2020, just as the first lockdown began. Mr Phelps paid tribute not only to staff and students, but to the whole community who, he said, had come together to get the school to where it is now.
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“It’s just a proud moment for all of us in the community because it takes a lot of people to make a really great school,” he said. “I am exceptionally proud of the staff and students, but also the whole community. This is really for them, that, for the first time in a long time the school is getting recognition it deserves for being a really good school. I come from Coleford and was a student at the school, so I’m really invested in it and am just enjoying seeing it thrive. “
Following the last full inspection when the school was rated ‘inadequate’, the leadership has changed, a new behavior regime was brought in and even the uniform was changed.
As part of that transformation, it also joined the Greenshaw Learning Trust (GLT) which has helped towards its achievement of ‘good’ ratings for behavior and attitudes, leadership and management, quality of education, and personal development. The Trust is a collection of schools that work to support, challenge and develop each other and provide the platform that allows students to make excellent progress.
Will Smith, chief executive officer of GLT, said: “Five Acres High School has been on a rapid improvement journey and we are delighted that this has been recognized by Ofsted. As a thriving, popular, local school, our community can be proud of the hard work of students and teachers. ”
When inspectors visited in February, they highlighted the “well sequenced curriculum” that includes everyone including special educational needs pupils, and applauded the efforts of leaders, teachers and governors in contributing to the overall improvements.
They also noted that pupils were very positive about the quality of education, behaved very well in lessons, felt safe and cared for and that the curriculum nurtured high aspirations. And they pointed out parents were overwhelmingly positive about the education their children received at the school, adding: “One parent’s view echoes the views of many: ‘the school has high expectations for all students’.”
Certain areas of improvement were highlighted by the inspection team, led by Susan Aykin, including praise for creating a strong reading culture in pupils, a very effective careers education, regular university visits, and the academic and pastoral support from teachers and support staff.
Spanish and maths were singled out for praise, and so too were safeguarding arrangements, with leaders vigilant about the emotional and physical safety of pupils.
Certain areas for further improvement were cited, including a need for staff to ensure pupils develop their literacy skills in all subjects, as well as ensuring pupils with SEND receive the support they need to learn with confidence and success.
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