7 November

In its first inspection since receiving a Good rating in 2014, Ofsted has praised Highfield Ely Academy for its clear vision, drive and unwavering determination in a strong and effective safeguarding environment.  

The report states: ‘Aspirations for all pupils are high. Staff encourage pupils with their learning and provide well-targeted support. Leaders ensure that all pupils achieve well, regardless of their starting points or whether they are disadvantaged.’

The inspection took place earlier this term and is the school’s first Ofsted report since it joined the Active Learning Trust in 2016. The inspector commented: joining the Trust ‘has brought benefits to the school through collaborative working and the sharing of good practice. This has focused on leadership and management and provided professional development opportunities for staff. It is also evident that you (Exec Head) and the head of school bring skills and expertise to advance further the work of the Trust.’

Simon Bainbridge, Executive Headteacher, Highfield Ely & Littleport Schools, said: “I am very pleased that Ofsted has recognised our school as continuing to provide a good quality of education that is centred around our pupils’ progress and welfare. We have a motivated and cohesive team across both Highfield schools that are dedicated to our pupils. It is also great that the inspection found that our colleagues, pupils and parents are all overwhelmingly supportive of Highfield Ely Academy.”

When addressing Simon, the inspector stated: ‘Your clear vision, drive and unwavering determination have earned you the respect of the governors and the Trust. You have created an ethos in the school that promotes pupils’ welfare at the forefront. You and the head of school have high expectations and lead by example. You are engaged in a relentless cycle of improvement to achieve the very best.’

The Inspector stated: ‘Staff understand pupils very well and learning activities suit each pupil’s interests’ and ‘staff are dedicated to the pupils, are motivated well by leaders and work effectively as a cohesive team. The vast majority of staff who responded to the staff survey said that they are proud to work at the school, that leaders support staff well, pupils are safe, and they enjoy their work.’

Simon continued: “This year, we are redesigning the curriculum to provide bespoke ‘learning pathways’ from an early age, so that our pupils are even better prepared for their next steps, whatever they may be. We ensure that the curriculum is personalised to individual pupil’s, and we plan thoroughly so that pupils can meet their education, health and care plan targets, which are shared with pupils and parents on a frequent basis.”

Highfield was also commended on its effective safeguarding, with the report stating: ‘Leaders have created a strong and effective safeguarding environment where pupils’ safety and well-being are prominent.’

‘The designated safeguarding officers are well-informed, both in relation to safeguarding practice and about the pupils in the school. The systems to safeguard pupils are precise and are monitored meticulously by leaders, who take swift action when safeguarding concerns are raised.’

‘Despite pupils’ learning or communication difficulties, the school strives to educate pupils on how to stay safe both within and outside school. Safeguarding is woven into the curriculum, covering topics such as road safety, transport training, ‘stranger danger’, ‘private personal body areas’, online safety, sexting and relationships.’

‘Leaders ensure that pupils are kept safe on arrival at school. Staff manage pupils’ transition on and off transport effectively.’

‘Pupils say that they feel safe and know that they can share any anxieties with an adult. This is a result of the trusting relationships between staff and pupils.’ And ‘Parents agree that their children are safe in school and are well looked after.’

Gary Peile, Chief Executive of the Active Learning Trust, said: “We are delighted that Highfield Ely is considered by Ofsted to be a Good school. Since the school joined the Trust the developments have continued at pace to meet the needs of pupils and we are delighted at the many positive comments throughout the report. We look forward to the great partnership between the school and the whole Trust being deepened in the coming years.”

The overall judgement from the report is Good. To further improve on this outcome, the school will focus on:  

  • further strengthen the curriculum content and embed the new curriculum pathways model
  • further refine assessment systems linked to the new pathways so that all pupils make consistently strong progress
  • review strategies to ensure that teachers get the training they require to build upon their already strong practice.