Hellesdon High School


Ofsted 2023

Following our recent Ofsted Inspection, Hellesdon High School was judged as Good in four of the five inspection areas. Please click on the drop-down links below to find out more.

Quality of Education

Our school was graded ‘good’ for Quality of Education. The report highlights that our students benefit from an ambitious and well-designed curriculum to ensure their knowledge and skills develop well over time. Target setting for all students is above the national average and we have experienced specialist teachers who are both knowledgeable and passionate.

Our students enjoy their learning. They are well-supported and appreciate the support they receive. Inspectors said teachers confidently deliver information clearly and regularly check what students can understand and do, using a range of effective strategies to see what students have remembered and taking appropriate action where they find gaps in student's understanding. 

The report does say some students are not achieving as highly as they could due to waiting for others to catch up with their learning. This is something we had acknowledged prior to the inspection and in September we moved from mixed ability classes to sets. One of our school priorities this year is to also raise the level of ‘learning challenge’ in the classroom. We introduced the Hellesdon Learning Habits in September and have been focussed on the Inquisitive habit during this Autumn Term. Ongoing staff training regarding effective questioning continues including an update in early November where we identified specific strategies to increase challenge within classes. Alongside this, we have introduced the KS4 Journey to Excellence programme to raise the achievement of all students by promoting ambition, resilience and independence.

Our Hellesdon Habits

Inspectors recognised that school leaders understand how important it is for students to be able to read fluently and found a minority of pupils lacked the skills needed to read well. We acknowledge more precise support is needed to help those few students who struggle to read more confidently and we have continued with our whole school focus on reading. This aims to build student stamina and vocabulary through the Bedrock programme.  Accelerated Reader and Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) helps us to encourage a love of reading, both at home and school. Since the inspection we have invested in GL Assessment Reading Tests, a programme which will provide us with accurate reading age data for all students in Years 7 to 10. This will allow teachers to provide appropriate support where needed. Our SEND department and Literacy Lead are also reviewing reading intervention programmes to ensure they are providing maximum impact, and working with Wensum Trust English Hub.

Inspectors praised the school's SEND provision. They said the school accurately identifies students with special educational needs and/or disabilities. Adults within the school are provided with clear plans on how to best help pupils with staff confident in supporting students with SEND to do well.

Leadership and Management

Our school was graded ‘good’ for Leadership and Management. The report states that students feel safe in our school and know they have a trusted adult they can talk to, confident in the knowledge that we take their concerns seriously and help them. Inspectors commented that bullying was not an issue and any incidents of unkindness were dealt with promptly and effectively.

Inspectors highlighted that leaders know the needs of the school and they act in the best interests of the pupils. This can include working with external advisors who support leaders in securing the improvements that they have identified. Leaders, including trustees and governors, work closely to identify the strengths and areas to develop in the school. 

A new leadership team has been in post from September, which includes four new Assistant Principals with the responsibility of Teaching and Learning, Achievement and Progress, Attendance and Behaviour. A new Vice Principal role was also created to lead on Safeguarding and SEND, and to ensure there are clear lines of communication throughout the whole school community, including students, staff, parents/carers, governors and our Wensum Trust partners.

Our new Heads of House, which have been in place since September, have enabled us to reshape the pastoral support and provide a clear structure of line management through experienced pastoral leaders.

Going forward, the leadership team have planned external consultant support visits from two former Ofsted inspectors to ensure the school continues to focus on behaviour for learning of key groups across the school and further develop the ‘learning challenge’ within our classrooms.

Behaviours and Attitudes

The report says that many students display positive attitudes towards their education. Where routines are clearly enforced, and expectations are high, students focus well on their learning. In these instances, many students achieve well. However, outside of the sixth form, a minority of students do not display positive attitudes and can sometimes disrupt their peers. Inspectors commented on the positive and calm environment during social times. However, low-level disruption in some of our classrooms, such as calling out, talking over the teacher, not following instructions at the first time of asking, distracting others and a lack of engagement has fallen below our own expectations and is an ongoing priority for our school.

Whilst this does relate to a minority of students and lessons, it is something we had already acknowledged and we have been working to put practices in place to ensure high standards of attitudes and behaviour from all students, at all times. We came into the new school year with a new leadership team and a clear plan for the future of the school. We had reviewed our school practices and were already implementing changes before the Ofsted inspection. These include:

  • Focusing on building relationships with students and parents.
  • Streamlined class charts to provide parents with greater detail.
  • Promoting a positive student experience through greater rewards and regular recognition.
  • Introduced tutor groups to focus students and ensure they are ready, respectful and safe from the moment they arrive in school for the day.
  • Ensuring greater consistency of sanctions across the school by working closer with Heads of House.
  • Focusing on clear boundaries and high expectations in lessons – this was supported with dedicated teacher development in the last academic year.
  • School leaders and Heads of Departments visiting classrooms and monitoring lessons.
  • Daily pastoral meetings led by Assistant Principals to tackle low level disruption quickly and prevent reoccurrences.
  • Raising the ambition and aspirations of students to reach their full potential.
  • Plans to introduce a new behaviour system.
  • Planned external quality assurance visits for two former senior Ofsted inspectors.

Our attitude to learning criteria has also been changed this year to draw out an explicit distinction between ‘conduct’ and ‘learning behaviours’. This will support staff and parents in challenging passive learning in the classroom, and students not engaging with homework.

The Ofsted inspection team noted the changes we had put in place from the start of the school year, four weeks prior to their visit, and acknowledged we are on the right path to a good outcome.

Attendance is taken into consideration when looking at behaviour and attitudes and we do have challenges with attendance. The issue of attendance is complex and it is not unique to Hellesdon High School. It has been widely reported as an issue nationally. We have been working with the Norwich Secondary Heads Attendance Network and an Attendance and Entitlement Officer to improve attendance.

We have implemented a number of new initiatives. We have been supporting students with anxiety by providing ‘back to school’ information. We have introduced a new tutor system at the beginning of the day so tutors can play a greater role in identifying attendance issues so that we can offer support to students and their families - and a new student absence reporting system allows us to deal with attendance issues more efficiently. We are also encouraging better attendance with greater rewards and transport options for students.

Personal Development

Our school was graded ‘good’ for Personal Development. Inspectors have praised the school for prioritising student development, highlighting how students are explicitly taught how to discuss important issues, how students talk with maturity about British values, and how they display high levels of respect towards other races and religions.

At Hellesdon High School, we take every opportunity to support our students in their social and emotional development. Our aim is for every student to develop positive personal and social values during their time with us, preparing them well for their future as responsible and active citizens. The personal and social values we prioritise are ambition, resilience, kindness, honesty and integrity. Inspectors spoke highly of our personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) curriculum across Year 7 to Year 13.

Our commitment to personal development will continue with increased wellbeing support for students experiencing anxiety and double the mental health support compared to last year.

Inspectors also praised the school for providing students with high-quality careers information, education, advice and guidance to ensure they have the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about their future. Our Wensum Trust Partnerships continue to flourish, in particular with Norwich Theatre, Norwich City Community Sports Foundation and North Walsham Rugby Club.

Sixth Form Provision

Hellesdon Sixth Form has been judged as ‘Good’ by Ofsted. In their report, inspectors praised Hellesdon Sixth Form for its high-quality education in a warm and welcoming environment, where students achieve highly. 

Inspectors highlighted teachers for having good subject knowledge and a high degree of consistency in the delivery of lessons. This is reflected in our 2023 outcomes where our sixth form was in the top 25% of schools nationally. They also said students are provided with valuable information, such as careers information and more general life skills which prepares students well for their next steps.

Students also told inspectors they have a positive experience within Sixth Form and would recommend it to others.

Hellesdon Sixth Form has gone from strength to strength this past year with new facilities and strong exam results. We look forward to building on our success as we support our students with their next steps.

Parent View gives parents/carers the chance to tell Ofsted what you think about your child's school, from the quality of the teaching to dealing with bullying and poor behaviour. The survey can be completed at any time; you don't have to wait until the school is being inspected.