Visit to Ormiston Victory Academy in Norwich

Victory It was great to take some time out from the “interesting” Suffolk education scence to hop over the border to visit the Ormiston Victory Academy in Norwich where @Rachel_desouza is the Principal. Rachel Gooch and I travelled up together, Victory is very much a “traditional" sponsored academy that was created in response to a failing predecessor school that was in Special Measures due to behaviour and poor attainment.

The academy is into its second year of operation and it is clear it is already a much different place. When we walked into rooms children jumped to their feet to stand and were all smartly dressed in Victory’s uniform.

Now I am not the kind of person to think this is compulsory in a school but I would much rather see this than an out of control environment where nobody can learn.  It was nothing like that at Victory, the school was calm, well ordered and everyone was working.

Now that is not unusual, I have visited many schools where that is the case but given the situation at the school previously this is clearly a major change as staff, many of whom worked at the predecessor school were happy to tell us.

Last year the results shot up and the Academy is working on sustaining this as well as a major building project which will see some crumbling buildings replaced with what looks to be an amazing state of the art school. Take a look at the video below:

I liked Victory Academy. It combines a kind of “traditional” approach to behaviour and learning with a modern, real world, practical and relevant atmosphere. It was business-like in a good way. The school is rightly striving for high academic standards.

We heard that something around about 75% of children were now doing a Language although this was not compulsory. Indeed they have added Spanish to the French and German and I think I heard mention of Latin at some point!

Vocational subjects were also a strong focus and we were given a tour of the amazing Victory beauty salon which operates as a real world business. We spoke to some of the students in the sixth form who already had part-time jobs in local beauty salons. The school was giving them a skill that directly led to employment. Unfortunately though they had no solution for receding hair!

The staff very much felt that by offering vocational qualifications that led to real world employment opportunities it encourages students to carry on with their academic studies. They were every bit as proud of the Beauty Salon as the academic departments.

Of course the concern is always that this kind of quick change might not be sustainable. I certainly do not think that a sponsored academy and this rate of change would work everywhere but it certainly achieves a quick turnaround. Some schools need to grow in an evolutionary way, some need a revolution.

We had an very interesting discussion later about the proposed Sixth Form Free School in Norwich which I will write another post about as it is a very interesting and innovative project. Likewise the proposed “Guild of Teaching” is something that deserves its own post too.

It seems everyone at the Academy is on Twitter! And it was amusing to be introduced by our Twitter names by Rachel de Souza who is every bit as enthusiastic in real life as she appears on Twitter!
Ormiston Victory Trust 2593274996999834056

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