Hastings school ‘continues to improve’, Ofsted says

A school in Hastings has been praised for its continuing improvements, despite challenges brought on by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Ofsted inspectors said.

Following the inspection, which was done remotely, the education watchdog said school leaders were taking ‘effective action to provide education in the current circumstances’.

The school, which received a rating of ‘requires improvement’, was told by Ofsted to ‘continue to develop pupils’ reading fluency and language comprehension

within every subject so that pupils can acquire the necessary subject knowledge’.

Ark Alexandra Academy, Helenswood Campus, The Ridge, St Leonards. SUS-210115-104314001

Ark Alexandra (formerly Ark William Parker Academy and Ark Helenswood) is part of Ark Schools, one of the country’s academy networks that runs 38 schools in Birmingham, Hastings, London, and Portsmouth.

The remote inspection took place on March 2 and looked at how the school had adapted during the pandemic.

Ark Alexandra was applauded for how it had ‘galvanised staff to produce and maintain an ambitious education for those pupils working at home.

“Leaders trained staff to use new technology so that they were ready to deliver the curriculum remotely in January 2021,” inspectors said.

Inspectors noted that subject leaders had adapted the curriculum to cover topics later in the year that would be better taught face-to-face with students, and Year 13 received ‘carefully targeted support to prepare them for their next steps’.

The school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) was highlighted as being ‘steadfast in ensuring that therapeutic support from external agencies has continued throughout the national lockdown’, and that ‘staff have also prioritised checking that pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are receiving the right help, whether they are working at home or in school’.

Liam Collins, who joined as principal in September 2020, said: “I am so pleased that Ofsted has recognised our hard work as this has been a difficult time for everyone, so I am immensely proud of how the whole Ark Alexandra community has coped.

“We have had a lot of engagement with staff, students and parents who have adapted to changing situations brilliantly.

“We have all remained focused on ensuring we provide children with high-quality education regardless of whether students were in our community classroom or learning remotely.

“As things slowly get back to ‘normal’, our continued priority will be ensuring that students have all the support they need to learn, develop and thrive.”

Lorraine Clarke, regional director for Ark’s schools in Hastings, said: “I am delighted that Ark Alexandra’s staff and the leadership team have been recognised for all their ongoing hard work and commitment to students.

“The school continues to make significant improvements with the full support and guidance from governors and Ark schools.”