Headteacher turns things around at Hall Park Academy

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Hall Park Academy in Eastwood has been given a new lease of life and exam results are now shooting through the roof.

It has gone from being a poor performing school to this month achieving GCSE results higher than the national average – for the first time ever.

After the school was given an Ofsted rating of ‘requires improvement’, headteacher Stephanie Dyce was sworn in to turn things around.

Authorities decided it needed input from teachers running a school that had been rated ‘outstanding’, and Mrs Dyce, and her deputy headteacher Paul Sherlock were brought over from the Redhill Academy in Arnold two years ago.

Since then Hall Park Academy has gone from strength to stength.

With the latest GCSE and A level results showing huge improvement, Mrs Dyce said she felt ‘relieved’.

“To see this school make the improvements it’s made is very satisfying.

“I feel relieved. It’s a great job, but you are under a lot of public scrutiny. I’ve come here with the reputation of Redhill but it’s only going to last so long and I know I had to deliver here. I’m so pleased we’ve able to do that.

“There’s no doubt this is a job with massive responsibility, and the weight of that responsibility can sometimes feel heavy, but it’s really very rewarding.

“The head boy at the school got four As in his A levels and is now going on to study medicine. It’s great.”

Back in 2012, 42 per cent of students achieved five A to C grades including English and maths. This year that figure hit 58 per cent – the first time the school has ever got results higher than the national average.

A level and AS levels also reached record highs, with 98 per cent of A level students passing their exams.

Mrs Dyce, who said she was very happy at Eastwood school and loved its ‘personal feel’, said the first thing she did to was raise expectations.

“I made sure I raised expectations with both staff and students.

“I’ve really worked hard to communicate to them that they are as good or better than other students, and they should aim to be the best they can be. And I’ve made it clear that with that you have to work hard.

“It’s about not settling for second best.

“Everyone works hard here. The staff, the support staff and the students. You have got to put in the effort if you want to reap the reward,” she added.

Mrs Dyce said she kept student achievement at the heart of her approach.

She said the profile of the school was the same as Redhill and she saw no reason why she could not bring the results and reputation up to the same standard.

“We looked at targets and showed staff that the student profile and demographic of the school was the same as Redhill, but with very different outcomes.

“We would look in depth at why pupils were not on target to get what they should be getting.”

Back in 2012 when it was arranged a new headteacher would step in, it was also decided that the school should become an academy to further improve its standards.

Governors managed to secure a grant for a completely new look building, and with this came a new uniform with fresh expectations of good behaviour.

There’s now a structured ‘house system’ at the school and extra curricular clubs to engage students more.

As well as input from Mrs Dyce and Mr Sherlock, teachers at the academy also had visits from teahcers at Redhill for advice and guidance, and equally Eastwood teachers overlooked classes taught in Arnold.

Hall Park Academy is due a visit from Ofsted inspectors this year, and Mrs Dyce is expecting a rating of ‘good’.

She said: “From then on we will be looking at further improvements. There’s no reason why this school can’t be outstanding. It has the capacity to be.”

The headteacher said the pupils now seemed ‘proud’ of their school and said she was looking forward to presenting an assembly next week to deliver the good news about the recent exam results.