On 13 and 14 September 2023, Ofsted inspected the academy and we are pleased to share their findings.
The report outlines the significant progress made since we joined Diverse Academies Trust in December 2020, and highlights the hard work and dedication of our whole academy community.
Throughout the two-day inspection, our children modelled wonderfully the behaviours of respect, curiosity, kindness and determination – which we commonly refer to as ‘putting on a Hillocks show!’ The Ofsted team were able to experience what life is like at Hillocks, which they have described in the report as ‘a warm and friendly school’, where ‘pupils feel happy, safe, and welcome,’ and is ‘a place where children come first.’
The report, which can be read in full via the link at the bottom, goes on to state that the academy has a ‘caring ethos’ and that ‘everyone associated with the school has high ambition and aspiration for all pupils.’ Inspectors commented that ‘staff really get to know every pupil’ and that the children understand ‘that the adults at Hillocks will help them deal with any worries they might have’, which means they have ‘a strong sense of belonging and a feeling of security.’
Inspectors went on to praise aspects of the curriculum, reporting that ‘children begin to learn to read as soon as they start in reception’, that ‘staff teach phonics well’ and ‘older pupils enjoy reading challenging chapter books.’ The SEND provision was also judged to be good, with the inspectors recognising the ‘precise, timely support’ which is ‘matched to individual needs.’
In a further highlighted strength, Ofsted stated that ‘pupils benefit from a personal development offer that prepares them for life’ and that ‘pupils hold respectful, inclusive attitudes towards difference and diversity.’
The passion of our staff shone throughout the visit, with inspectors recognising how they ‘are invested in the Hillocks journey, and they are determined for the school and all its pupils to thrive.’
Ofsted rated the academy ‘good’ in three out of five areas of provision, including leadership and management – which is a first in the school’s history. Prior to joining Diverse Academies Trust, the academy had been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted and placed into special measures. In this inspection, overall, Ofsted gave a judgement of ‘requires improvement’.
In response to the report, newly appointed principal, Claire Gledhill, said: “I am very proud of the children and delighted that they so brilliantly showcased our school to Ofsted. I am also incredibly excited for what the future holds for Hillocks and, importantly, what our staff team and children can achieve together. Although I have only been principal since the start of the academic year, I am deeply invested in Hillock’s success and will work hard to ensure we continue to build on the strong foundations laid. I am confident that our improvement plans, alongside the support in place, will enable us to achieve success in all areas.”
Lucy Spacey, executive principal added: “In the relatively short time the academy has been with the Trust, our leadership and management team has implemented and continues to drive forward significant improvements – the impact of which I am pleased to see recognised in Ofsted’s latest report. Hillocks is a wonderful school and is an academy which all our children, parents, carers, staff and governors can all be very proud of.”
Cat Thornton, chief education officer at Diverse Academies Trust went on to add: “We are delighted by the transformation in the academy since joining the Trust. Ofsted have recognised the great curriculum and children’s enthusiasm for learning thanks to the work of a fantastic team. Hillocks is truly a school that sits at the heart of the community it serves.
David Cotton, chief executive officer for Diverse Academies Trust summed up: “We have a clear vision for all our schools across the Trust – to inspire, to raise aspirations and to create brighter tomorrows. Hillocks has seen significant change over the last couple of years, made possible by a highly motivated and dedicated team. I give my thanks and gratitude to all the staff and look forward to seeing the academy go from strength to strength.”