The Gateway Academy: From ‘basket-case’ to one of the best schools in the UK.

THERE was a time when very few parents wanted to send their children to St Chads and Torrells schools where standards were amongst the worst in the UK.

Finally, Thurrock Local Authority decided to close both these schools and open the Gateway Academy: this was the start of an amazing transformation.

Ofsted inspectors have just published their inspection report and have judged the Gateway Academy to be ‘outstanding’.

Inspectors said that the Academy has made ‘startling progress’ in raising standards of attainment. They said that students make ‘outstanding progress’ particularly linked to those achieving 5 or more good GCSE grades including English and Mathematics. The Academy is now ranked in the top 1% of all schools in the UK for this measure.

The care and guidance that pupils receive to help them settle and do well at the Academy was judged as ‘outstanding’: the contribution that the Academy makes to the wider community and particularly the regeneration of Tilbury was judged as ‘outstanding’.

The inspection team were particularly impressed with the Academy’s ambitious and radical plan to open a new primary free school on its site in 2012 and to create a ‘Learning Community’ of local schools working together to improve the learning experience for all local pupils: once again, the Inspectors judged the Academy’s capacity to improve even further as ‘outstanding’.

Leadership was a key aspect of the Academy’s success as the report noted: “Under the inspirational leadership of its Principal, the Academy’s relentless pursuit of excellence has resulted in standards improving markedly in each year since its formation.”

Stephen Abbott, Her Majesty’s Inspector who led the Ofsted team praised the Academy and said to students: “You benefit from excellent care, guidance and support and an exceptional range of courses, within an outstanding curriculum, to meet your different needs. These combine with the good teaching and assessment to enable you to make outstanding progress, both academically and in your personal development. This means that you are well prepared for the future.”

The report focussed on several points from students’ contributions to the community, to their enthusiasm for their work saying:

“Students’ enjoyment is evident from their above-average attendance and their enthusiasm for learning. They are polite and welcoming, and get along well with adults and each other. Every student makes a contribution on community days, for example by painting fences, helping in local primary schools, clearing litter and helping old people.“

The new sixth form also received recognition: “The sixth form benefits from the Academy’s outstanding systems for care, guidance and support and sixth formers play their part in students’ outstanding contribution to the community.”

Principal Kevin Sadler said ‘I am overwhelmed by the response that we have had following this report: I have had messages of congratulations from the Local Authority, Thurrock Head Teachers and from many others, but the greatest joy of all was the response of our students, staff and parents, after all, they together are the Gateway Academy and it is they who have worked so hard to achieve this success.

I always knew that our students were amongst the best in the UK and today, that has been officially recognized: today the people of Tilbury and Chadwell St Mary can stand tall and be very proud indeed’.

The full report is available online from Ofsted.gov.uk of via the Gateway Academy.

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