Ofsted says Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech is ‘rapidly improving’ in a glowing inspection report

Anne Hill, prinicpal of Thomas Clarkson Academy.
Anne Hill, prinicpal of Thomas Clarkson Academy.

Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech is ‘rapidly improving’ say government inspectors who praised its leadership for its ‘sharp focus’ on improvement.

The academy received ‘good’ judgements for the effectiveness of its leadership and management and its sixth form following the inspection over two days at the end of last month.

Students’ personal development and welfare was also found to be good. In addition safeguarding, student care and careers advice were highlighted as positive and developing aspects of the school, after the inspection on October 31 and November 1.

Leadership was praised by the inspectors who said the academy’s leaders had ‘a sharp focus’ on school improvement and a ‘highly accurate picture of the school’s strengths and areas for further development’ as well as having ‘identified and successfully addressed the most urgent issues’.

Ofsted said: “Leaders and the principal share a clear vision for the academic and pastoral well-being of all pupils. They have introduced policies and procedures which are beginning to have impact” and principal Anne Hill “is frank about the challenges of the school and does not make or accept excuses for poor performance.”

There was also praise for the work of the Brooke Weston Trust, which has supported the school’s improvement “over a sustained period” and the multi-academy trust’s (MAT) leaders who “demonstrate commitment to improving the life chances of pupils in the school and the town. They have invested heavily in supporting the school, appointing a highly effective principal and other senior leaders.”

There is a ‘clear link’ between the support of the MAT subject leaders and improved pupil progress and the MAT “brings together individuals who have a strong blend of relevant educational, financial and legal skills” to oversee the school, with regular visits from MAT leaders and school governors to “hold leaders to account.”

The Inspectors found that students are “very well cared for and cared about”, most “are proud of their school” which represents “a safe space” for many and students are ‘extremely positive’ about the care offered by the school; in particular, student services.

“Very effective strategies” implemented by the staff and the MAT’s education welfare officer mean that persistent absence has “reduced sharply”. The range of trips and visits “helps to raise pupils’ aspirations and broaden their experience.” Community relations in the school “have improved enormously” and

Thomas Clarkson Academy provides “an oasis of community tolerance”.

Teachers are “helped to improve through regular professional development and opportunities to work with colleagues from other schools inside the MAT” and staff morale has improved with a 79 per cent drop in absence and a full complement of staff. Inspectors found that “where learning is most successful teachers provide pupils with suitable challenge and interesting tasks” and students in Year 11 and the Sixth Form are “very complimentary about the quality of teaching”. The report notes: “Effective teaching is found across year groups and a range of subjects”. Ofsted stated “the Sixth Form is very well led” with leaders having high expectations that students are rising to: “Leadership has a relentless focus on improving the quality of teaching and monitoring the progress of students …

“They have introduced a specific programme to help students gain places at the most prestigious universities” and the school “offers appropriate and challenging study programmes”.

Principal Anne Hill said: ‘This report shows that the hard work of our whole school community is having a real impact. It is gratifying that the inspectors can see that this is a ‘rapidly improving’ school and that the leadership team both here, and at Brooke Weston Trust, is determined that this will continue. I would like to thank all the staff for their continuing dedication and hard work. It is pleasing to see the work of our middle leaders, sixth form and

CEIAG, student services and safeguarding teams being recognised by Ofsted. We are all very confident that Thomas Clarkson Academy will continue to improve.’

Brooke Weston CEO Dr Andrew Campbell said: ‘This report reflects the strength and unswerving vision of senior leaders at Thomas Clarkson and the school’s continuing commitment to improve, underpinned by support from all levels of the Brooke Weston Trust. What is most gratifying is that inspectors can see we are corporately seeking to make a real and sustained difference to the life chances and aspirations of students in Wisbech and the local area.’