Heanor Gate Spencer Academy awarded remarkable Ofsted report

Pupils and staff at Heanor Gate Spencer Academy are celebrating after receiving a remarkable review from their recent Ofsted inspection.

The academy, located in Heanor is part of the Spencer Academies Trust. They underwent a section 8 inspection which is designed to ensure the academy remains good, following their last full section 5 inspection in March 2017.

Her Majesty’s Inspector commented that the academy not only continues to be Good but stated that ‘there is enough evidence of improved performance to suggest that the school could be judged Outstanding if we were to carry out a full section 5 inspection now.’

During the inspection, the academy was recognised for having an ambitious curriculum that is delivered well, ‘They have designed a curriculum that is ambitious for pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities. The curriculum is challenging.’ They also commented that ‘Leaders have worked hard to improve the quality of the curriculum in each subject from Year 7 to Year 13.’

The inspector praised the strong vision of the academy, following the ‘aspire, learn and achieve’ ethos that is embedded throughout, creating a strong learning community, ‘the ethos unites staff, pupils, and their families as team Heanor. Pupils said they are happy and safe here.’ They also observed that pupils, ‘have warm, respectful relationships with staff and each other.’

Positive feedback around assessments and pupil knowledge was also emphasised,’ ‘The school makes effective use of assessment to check what pupils know and can do. Teachers identify gaps in pupils’ knowledge and plan effectively to fill them.’

The review also highlights the strength of effective programmes in place to help not only support their pupils but support them to flourish, including a highly effective tutor-time programme that ‘includes spelling, vocabulary building and numeracy.’ The inspector acknowledged that the pupils also have many extra-curricular opportunities, ‘Pupils take part in a variety of activities, including bands, basketball, side by side, and the Combined Cadet Force. The school has a strong programme for personal development.’

The report is a true testament to the sheer dedication and determination of every member of staff to improve every student’s life chances when they walk through the gates in Year 7. Heanor Gate Spencer Academy has been on and will continue to be on, a journey of continuous improvement since the Spencer Academies Trust took over the school. This inspection came under the most rigorous framework that Ofsted have ever used and this, coupled with the challenges faced over the last few years of the pandemic, makes the comments in the report particularly pleasing.

Steve Huntington, Executive Principal of Heanor Gate Spencer Academy said;

‘I am delighted with the outcome and the national recognition this will bring. The whole community, staff, students and external partners bought into the vision and culture that I wanted to drive forward when appointed and I sincerely hope that every single individual can take pride in the report and celebrate their own unique part. This is not the end of the journey but a new phase of further improvement and as a school, we will continue to make sure that we get even better over the coming years and support education more widely, both locally and nationally.’

To clarify, as this was a Section 8 inspection, the overall judgement of the school could not change immediately. Instead, the report recognised that the school could have been judged outstanding if we had been inspected under a more rigorous section 5 inspection, and therefore Ofsted will carry out a section 5 inspection within 24 months to allow us to prove that we are truly an outstanding school.’

Paul West, CEO of Spencer Academies Trust, was delighted with the inspection;

‘We are extremely proud of everyone at Heanor Gate Spencer Academy. Steve and the team have done a remarkable job of not only retaining their good status but also showcase they could obtain Outstanding status on their next inspection. As a Trust, we put high-quality teaching and learning in all that we do and Heanor Gate is a great example of this. We are so pleased that this has been acknowledged and how well the staff and pupils have done to achieve this. Congratulations to all involved.’