‘All the pieces of the jigsaw are in place’

Headteacher Tracy Hush has revealed her determination to turn Berwick Academy into an outstanding school.

By Ian Smith
Wednesday, 10 April, 2019, 11:10
Tracy Hush, headteacher at Berwick Academy.

It follows the publication of an encouraging Ofsted report which praises the improved pace of change at the school in recent months.

While acknowledging that many challenges remain before the school can be taken out of special measures, Mrs Hush was pleased that inspectors took note of pupils’ improved behaviour and work done by the senior leadership team to address concerns.

She said: “The school is on a journey of improvement, having had some well documented difficulties in the past. Real and genuine improvement takes time and a lot of hard work, and with your support I am confident that we will become outstanding at Berwick Academy.

“All the mechanisms to transform the school are now in place. The last piece of the jigsaw is pupil outcomes but with all the other pieces in place we can now work towards improving those.

“We know that there are still challenges ahead, with one or two areas still preventing us from moving out of special measures.

“There is still concern about the quality of some teaching and learning, and the level of challenge to students within learning, particularly the most able. Inspectors noted, however, that we are under no illusion that there is a lot of work to do in this area so that pupil outcomes improve.

“Pupils’ attainment continues to be highly variable and this will take time to change.

“Unfortunately there are still a minority of pupils who choose to misbehave and disrupt learning, and the school has also acknowledged that the proportion of pupils that have been excluded is too high.

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“Pupil absence is also of concern and we ask for parental support in ensuring pupils attend school regularly. We continue to focus on attendance and improving classroom engagement.

“The transformation of Berwick Academy will come with full community support. We want pupils, parents, staff, local residents and local businesses to come together to make it happen.

“Whilst the overall judgement is not what we would have wanted the report does make clear that the previous instability in leadership is the reason for the slowed pace. It also acknowledges that there has been a new momentum and the pace of change has quickened. Leadership has been stabilised and this change in pace has continued since the inspection.”

One of the challenges is the dwindling school roll, currently at 540 pupils with over 100 students from the traditional catchment now attending schools in Eyemouth and Alnwick, as well as Longridge. In December, the school was issued with a formal financial notice to improve by the government.

“We have to make sure this is the natural choice for children from the Berwick area and that is what will make a difference, both in terms of the financial situation and in terms of pupil outcomes,” said Mrs Hush.

Donna Goddard, chair of trustees, added: “I am really pleased that the Ofsted report recognises the progress we have made and it reinforces our decision to make Tracy Hush the permanent head.

“I can not emphasise enough the need for parental support in ensuring their children go to school or by helping out at after-school sessions. We would also welcome any parents who want to get involved as trustees or with the PTA.”