Reepham school celebrates Ofsted triumph

In 2005 Reepham High School was the first secondary school in Norfolk to be marked outstanding by government education inspectors under a new stringent inspection regime.

In 2005 Reepham High School was the first secondary school in Norfolk to be marked outstanding by government education inspectors under a new stringent inspection regime.

Now the north Norfolk high school is believed to be the first in the county to be given the top grade in all 27 categories the Ofsted inspectors scrutinise.

It also marks the third consecutive inspection in which the comprehensive school, with more than 800 pupils aged 11 to 16, was branded outstanding, the highest official rating.

It follows a year in which the school won specialist vocational status, it's third specialism, and was also given the green light to create a new £5million sixth form centre for 250 students and extend education to up to 18-year-olds.

Staff celebrated the result with a toast of champagne, head teacher Chris Hassell, who has been in the post since 1996, said.

“It is the icing on the cake,” said Mr Hassell. “This for these children is actually like winning the VC.”

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In just seven pages summarising the main areas of the inspection, held last month, the inspector, Anthony Knight, refers to the school as excellent at least 14 times and outstanding at least 11 times.

It was also referred to as a model for other schools and its strength was 'built on positive relationships'.

“Most impressive is the development of mutual respect that underpins all aspects of school life,” the report said.

“They make an outstanding contribution to the community at local regional and international level. Their preparation for life beyond school is of the very highest order.”

Last night a spokesman for Ofsted said the result was a 'rare achievement for the region'.

Mr Hassell said he thought it was recognition of the colossal amount of hard work by everyone involved in the school but also its vocational applied learning, spread across the whole curriculum, community education and their international work.

He was astounded by the report: “I was an Ofsted inspector for a number of years and I have never read anything like it.

“He said to me 'if there was a word that was higher than outstanding we would want to use it of your school'.”

It puts the school above Hobart High and Wymondham College, both marked outstanding, but not with straight top grades for every inspected category, he said.

Crucially, the result also secures some £500,000 for the school for the next three years as it shows they still meet the criteria to be a specialist school.

They now have three specialist statuses: mathematics and computing, science with a rural dimension, and vocational.

Each specialism they have, all of which are regularly reviewed, brings in £150,000 in government cash every year.

And inspectors said the school was judged to be “well prepared” to open its sixth form in September 2009 and retains “outstanding capacity for improvement”.

“A remarkable school where everything reinforces excellence.”

Mr Hassell added: “From a personal point of view I am extremely proud to be head teacher of a school that has won a report like this. This represents a colossal effort and energy from everyone associated with the school.”

2000: Ofsted inspectors said the school made “remarkable progress” since its 1995 inspection, said “weaknesses have become strengths” and that 82pc of teaching good to excellent.

The school was listed as “outstanding” in the annual report to Parliament by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools.

2005: “Reepham High School is an outstanding school” said inspectors.

This was the first time a Norfolk secondary school gained an “outstanding” report under higher standards of the new Section 5 inspection framework.

The report was again listed in Her Majesty's Chief Inspector's Annual Report to Parliament.

2008: The school was again judged to be outstanding.

All 27 judgements on the 1 - 4 scale were grade 1 (1 being outstanding; 4 inadequate) - a first for a Norfolk secondary school.