Hunstanton school bosses 'know what needs to improve', says Ofsted
Pupils at a West Norfolk secondary school say they feel their education is "rapidly" getting better, despite inspectors reporting that it needs to do better.
A new Ofsted report has concluded that Smithdon High School in Hunstanton requires improvement, following an inspection last month.
The assessment is the first the school has had as a member of the West Norfolk Academies Trust, which it joined in 2017, and the first since it was rated "good" by the inspection body five years ago.
But the report, which was published on Monday, also highlights the immediate impact that new headteacher John Hirst, who took over in September has had.
The inspectors said: "Pupils told us that they feel that their school, lessons and pupils’ behaviour are rapidly improving. Parents and carers are noticing these changes too. The school is growing in popularity.
"Pupils said that the new headteacher has introduced rules that are ‘strict but fair’.
"Pupils like the fact that adults notice and reward their good behaviour. We saw that very many pupils are responding splendidly. They take pride in their appearance and conduct themselves well."
The report called for more to be done to ensure a "small number" of students who had so far not adjusted to the new rules did so and for work to tackle an absence rate that inspectors felt was too high.
They also backed planned reforms of the school's curriculum and said that work should continue.
But it added: "Governors and trustees are determined to provide pupils with the best quality education and care.
"Several leaders, including the headteacher, are very new in post. They know what needs to improve and are addressing weaknesses in the school’s provision."
Mr Hirst, who is Smithdon's fourth headteacher in three years, said: "“We are all committed to ensuring every student at our school has the best education possible.
"The fact the inspectors highlighted the changes and how we are growing in popularity is a testament to the hard work of every member of the Smithdon family.
"There is no room to be complacent and we will not be standing still in our endeavours to continue improving our school each step of the way.
"We have taken on board the results of the inspection and look forward to a bright future.”
Trust chairman Roger Livesey added: "We are very pleased that the inspectors consider the school to be moving in the right direction.
"John has hit the ground running and already this term we can see improvements.
"Staff, students, parents and governors are pulling together and we are confident that the measures put in place will bring about further improvements."
The publication of the inspection follows the revelation earlier this week that CCTV cameras had been installed in students' toilets at the school.
Although leaders defended the move, insisting the privacy of pupils would not be affected, some parents have raised concerns, including claims that "Big Brother" was watching.
More by this authorAllister Webb