‘Remarkable’ turnaround Leeds primary gets ‘outstanding’ marks

PIC: Simon Hulme
PIC: Simon Hulme
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Outstanding in all areas – that is how the schools watchdog has rated an academy after it achieved a “remarkable” transformation.

Hillcrest Academy earned top marks from Ofsted after inspectors visited the Chapeltown primary in September.

In 2013 it was branded “inadequate” by the watchdog as it emerged that 14 headteachers had been through its doors in a space of 20 years.

It became an academy in January 2014 and an Ofsted report released yesterday said the Gorse Trust’s role “in transforming a long-standing legacy of underachievement has been remarkable.”

Principal Mark Randall said: “After many years as Hillcrest being seen in a negative light across the city, now we are able to be seen in a positive light.”

The report highlights that Mr Randall and associate principal Sam Done lead with a “culture where only the best is good enough”.

It states that outcomes for pupils are outstanding, with those who begin school with very low starting points making rapid progress and leaving very well-prepared for next steps.

“Every lesson counts at Hillcrest Academy. Teachers are relentless in supporting every pupil to reach their full potential,” it says of the Cowper Street school.

Pupils, whose behaviour is “exemplary”, are said to be very proud of their achievements and value their education.

It adds: “Respect and tolerance are golden threads that permeate school life. Pupils have a deep understanding of their role in a diverse community.”

The report says that early years learning is outstanding and “robust systems are in place to ensure that pupils are kept safe”.

Chairman of the school’s governors Coun Peter Gruen said: “No doubt this has been a long journey for us with plenty of ups and downs along the way. However we can be very proud to be judged as a first class school in all aspects and I pay tribute to every single person involved in taking us to this point.”