A FAILING school that was turned into Portsmouth’s only academy is now rated among the best after an extraordinary turnaround.
Charter Academy in Southsea is celebrating a ‘good’ Ofsted despite the tougher inspection rules that have tripped up many schools locally.
Principal Dame Sharon Hollows puts the success down to top teachers and ‘high expectations for all children’.
It comes as the academy confirms plans for a £9m redevelopment to include a sixth form.
Dame Sharon said: ‘We are thrilled with the report – it validates what’s been an incredible journey for us.
‘We’ve gone from a school that had totally unacceptable behaviour to one where students’ good attitude has been recognised and where expectations of staff and students are high.
‘Now we’re aiming for outstanding.’
Last year, Charter – located in the most deprived ward in Portsmouth – boasted the city’s biggest leap in good GSCE results.
This year students are on track to smash the 50 per cent pass rate barrier.
The key to the academy’s success, says Dame Sharon, is ‘knowing what every individual child needs’ through half-termly assessments.
There are also incentives for pupils to do well.
Every six weeks 15 students in each year group win prizes donated by the academy’s sponsor ARK for best progress, including a scholarship to top public school Wellington College.
Dame Sharon said: ‘When I first came to Charter people were making excuses for children’s underachievement, because they came from challenging homes or areas. But it is those children who need higher expectations than anyone else.
‘Our children are talking about universities they want to go to and apprenticeships. Aspirations are soaring.’
Historically, Charter and its former incarnation St Luke’s struggled to attract applicants. Next year, all 120 Year 7 places have been filled with youngsters from as far afield as Portchester, as well as independent schools.
However ARK is not on Portsmouth City Council’s list of recommended sponsors.
Dame Sharon said she hopes the council will reconsider.