Thomas Gainsborough School near Sudbury achieves ‘good’ Ofsted rating after joining Samuel Ward Academy Trust

Wayne Lloyd, headteacher at Thomas Gainsborough School, with students. The school received a 'Good'

Wayne Lloyd, headteacher at Thomas Gainsborough School, with students. The school received a 'Good' rating from Ofsted. Picture: MARCELLE CLAXTON - Credit: Archant

A large west Suffolk school which converted to academy status has achieved an improved Ofsted rating.

In its first inspection since joining the Samuel Ward Academy Trust in January 2015, the 1,397-pupil Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard was rated ‘good’ by the education inspectorate.

It represents an upgrade from the ‘requires improvement’ rating in 2013 which was effectively banished when the school left local authority control.

The team of six inspectors praised senior leadership, teachers, and the trust, which runs 19 schools.

Andy Hemmings, lead inspector, said leaders and governors are ambitious for pupils and have a “deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the school”, resulting in good progress across subjects.

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He wrote in his report: “Leaders have tailored the curriculum to meet the individual needs of pupils. The innovative ‘grammar’, ‘broad’ and ‘STEM’ pathways enable pupils to begin to specialise from Year 7.

“As a consequence, pupils are well prepared to make the right choices for key stage 4 study.”

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Teachers check the progress that pupils make with other schools across the trust, he said. Lead practitioners for key subjects have been appointed, improving results.

The individual category of personal development, behaviour and welfare was rated ‘outstanding’. The school’s key values of resilience, respect and happiness are embedded daily and pupils benefit from work experience.

Leaders also “understand the barriers to learning that disadvantaged pupils face”.

However, some teachers do not have a clear understanding of pupils’ current ability, meaning some work is either too easy or too difficult, slowing progress.

Headteacher Wayne Lloyd said: “We are all very pleased with this report which recognises the progress the school has made in recent years. It is testimony to the hard work of everyone.

“However, we are in no way resting on our laurels, and will carry on working to improve.”

Tim Coulson, chief executive of the Samuel Ward Academy Trust, said: “The Ofsted report backs up that Thomas Gainsborough is one of the leading schools in the trust and indeed across Suffolk.

“I would like to congratulate everyone for all the great work.”

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