Portsmouth's Ark Dickens Primary Academy achieves first ever 'good' Ofsted judgement

ARK Dickens primary school has gained its first ever ‘good’ Ofsted judgement.

By Neil Fatkin
Monday, 16th December 2019, 11:24 am

The judgement, following the November inspection, is the culmination of a long journey for the school which was judged as ‘requires improvement’ when it joined the Ark academy network in 2014 and in a subsequent inspection in June 2017. It’s a turnaround for school, previously Charles Dickens Primary, which throughout its history had never been judged as good since Ofsted started inspections in 1993.

After being judged ‘good in all areas’, headteacher, Fiona Chapman, is delighted the dedication of staff has paid off.

Mrs Chapman said: ‘We’re delighted with the result as this was an exceptionally strong ‘good’. Many of the staff are the same as under the previous judgements and there were tears of joy when I announced the news. We were confident we would get a good but seeing the reality on paper in superb.’

Ark Dickens Primary Academy head teacher, Fiona Chapman.

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Pressure was on as three consecutive judgements of ‘requires improvement’ would result in the school being placed in special measures. The report praised the leadership and stated the school had ‘improved rapidly’ since the appointment of the new head teacher. Inspectors also commended staff on improvements in attainment.

Inspectors stated: ‘Standards have improved and outcomes are improving. Reading is a priority at this school. Leaders have strengthened the teaching of reading significantly.’

‘We have very high expectations and follow our mantra of grit, resilience and endeavour,’ said Mrs Chapman. ‘We brought in a dedicated PE team and have fantastic sports facilities to enrich the curriculum.’

The school has also introduced its 11 by 11 initiative – to provide children with 11 memorable experiences by the time they leave Year 6.

‘This can range from rolling down a hill to a trip to Normandy or a private hovercraft tour to the Isle of Wight,’ added Mrs Chapman.

With a pupil premium rate of 63 per cent, the school was commended on its provision for disadvantaged children and those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Lead inspector, Brian Macdonald, said: ‘Disadvantaged pupils and pupils with SEND are well supported with their learning. These pupils take part in the full range of activities. Work is carefully planned to help pupils be successful. As a result, both disadvantaged and pupils with SEND achieve well.’

Fiona is particularly pleased with the support she has received from the local community with 97 per cent of parents now attending parents evenings compared to previous turnouts of below 40 per cent.