THE principal of the new Ormiston Sudbury Academy – formerly Sudbury Upper School – has pledged to raise standards and achieve an “outstanding” Ofsted report by 2014.

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Caroline Wilson, who relocated to Suffolk from Yorkshire to take up the role, described GCSE results at the secondary school as “disappointing”. But she said a new teaching and learning agenda was in place which would see visible improvements by next autumn.

The school, which has 708 students, reopened as the Ormiston Academy last week with a new uniform, refurbished corridors and a renovated reception area. But Mrs Wilson, 48, said the changes were far more than superficial.

In the first week, discipline has been noticeably tightened and the students’ lunch break has been cut from an hour to 35 minutes in a bid to keep the children engaged in learning.

The move is also part of a plan to change the school hours to an earlier start and finish from next September, when the two-tier education system will be in full swing across the county. Mrs Wilson has also said attendance and punctuality need to improve.

“It’s not about the fabric of the building, it’s about what’s happening inside it and our standards simply aren’t up to scratch,” she said. “Results (this year) were disappointing and below floor standard. Despite the problem with the English debacle nationally, the bottom line is that even if our students were to get the grades that were predicted, the standards are still not good enough and this is something I will be addressing.”

The school is running a similar curriculum to last year, but Mrs Wilson wants to build better links with Thomas Gainsborough School – formerly Great Cornard Upper – around the classes they offer.

She added: “I want to look at the curriculum to see what we can do to broaden it, so we have both academic and vocational courses and a curriculum that suits everybody’s needs and is totally inclusive.”

The transition to academy status has not been entirely smooth. Earlier this year, parents complained that there had not been adequate consultation over the takeover. The academy also had teething issues last week after dozens of uniforms ordered by parents turned up in the wrong sizes.

But Mrs Wilson added: “We are faced with a challenge here, but it’s doable. We are starting at a low level and even after a week, people are beginning to see that it is different, and the students feel more engaged with what they are doing. The challenge is going to be sustaining and maintaining it.”

The academy is holding two open evenings on September 20 and 26.

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