Fakenham Academy Norfolk has seen 2 years of strong progress recognised by Ofsted with a rating of ‘Good’ following a visit by inspectors to the Transforming Education in Norfolk (TEN) Group academy on 11th-12th June.
The judgement signals a swift turnaround for the academy, which prior to joining the TEN Group (in October 2013) had received a Grade 4 when last inspected in March 2013.
In making their judgement, the inspectors noted that “achievement at GCSE is improving strongly” and they praised the contribution of principal Matthew Parr-Burman and his senior leadership team in providing a “clear focus on raising standards and challenging … underperformance” which has resulted in a “sustained improvement in students’ achievement and a marked rise in the quality of teaching”.
Commenting on the quality of teaching and on student attainment, the report says that “Teaching is good and improving well, so that students make good progress overall”. At GCSE, progress in English is identified as being good, and achievement in mathematics is also good overall. In the sciences standards are noted to be improving well.
Fakenham Academy Norfolk is also praised for its sixth form provision, with the inspectors stating that “The sixth form is good [and] achievement is high in a wide range of subjects”. The sixth form “is led and managed well. Students appreciate the good-quality teaching and personal support they receive. They are very positive about life in the sixth form”. The positive support and encouragement that A level students receive means that “a high proportion aspire to university and obtain places”.
The report highlights the role that Norfolk Academies Trust and sponsor TEN Group has played in supporting the Academy’s improvement. It says that “the sponsoring school network give good support to the academy through staff training visits to other schools, in-house courses and the provision of staff expertise in financial management, assessment and human resources.” Furthermore, “The academy collaborates well with other schools to ensure that its assessments of students’ progress are accurate.”
The “well organised” governance of Fakenham Academy Norfolk is also recognised as a strength, with inspectors commenting that “Governors have a good grasp of the key strengths and development priorities in the academy. They use reports from senior managers well to challenge them on the impact of initiatives to raise standards.”
The inspectors found that students at Fakenham Academy Norfolk “behave well in lessons and have positive attitudes to their learning” and that “They are kept safe and they say they feel safe”.
The improvements at Fakenham Academy Norfolk have been supported by the introduction of an online system for setting homework, with the report noting that “The academy has developed its approach to setting and marking homework well in response to comments from parents ... Students and staff alike report that the new internet-based system of setting homework has ensured that homework tasks are well understood and deadlines better kept to.”
Among the areas for development, the report identifies that GCSE mathematics achievement can be improved further by helping middle-ability students to recognise and correct their errors in understanding. The report also says that "Teachers do not always give students enough guidance on what they need to do to improve their work."
Matthew Parr-Burman, principal, Fakenham Academy Norfolk, commented:
"I am incredibly proud of the achievement of students and staff over the past couple of years and this report recognises this work. All of us, including Transforming Education in Norfolk, have worked incredibly hard to get to this stage. The report follows our two consecutive best ever sets of GCSE results and represents the best report for the school over at least the past 10 years. We have already started our work to move to Outstanding."