A SCHOOL has been praised for its ‘remarkable turnaround’ after it received a ‘Good’ rating in its latest Ofsted inspection.

Atlantic Academy Portland is celebrating after it received a ‘Good’ rating in its first Ofsted inspection since being taken over by Aspirations Academies Trust.

Five years ago the school, formerly known as Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA), was judged to be ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted, ranking at the bottom of a government league table of similar schools nationally.

The school was taken over by Aspirations Academies Trust and re-named Atlantic Academy Portland in 2017.

The Academy is led by joint principals Lesley Bishop and Melissa Heppell and the Good rating applies to the whole school which caters for pupils aged 4 to 16.

Principals (L-R), Lesley Bishop, Secondary & Melissa Heppell, Primary, of Atlantic Academy Portland.

The Ofsted report notes: “This is an all-through school that has made a remarkable turnaround in a few years, during building works and the Covid-19 pandemic. Leaders have very high expectations and have been relentless in their pursuit of these.

“They are ambitious for pupils, who are responding well to the goals set. Bullying is rare at the school and pupils spoke of the school as a ‘family’ where they feel confident about sharing any worries with staff. Atlantic Academy sits proudly on the southernmost point of Portland.

“Leaders share pupils’ pride in the uniqueness of the setting. They are building strong relationships with the community and making the most of their surroundings.

“The relative smallness of the school allows staff to know pupils well and staff cater for pupils’ emotional needs and well-being diligently. Staff prepare pupils well for life in the modern world. Pupils receive effective careers advice and staff track the destinations of pupils when they leave.”

Principal Lesley Bishop (Secondary) with pupils from Atlantic Academy Portland.

Mrs Bishop told the Dorset Echo: “We are incredibly proud of all that has been achieved by the pupils and staff at Atlantic Academy Portland. We are particularly pleased that Ofsted recognised the journey we have been on and we would like to thank all those involved, especially the staff, governors and children who continue to uphold our values, as well as our Atlantic parents who have supported us during this time.’’

Principal Melissa Heppell (Primary), with pupils at Atlantic Academy Portland.

Miss Heppell said: “I am delighted that Atlantic Academy Portland has finally received the recognition and outcomes the school deserves. We have been on such an incredible journey, supported by our local community, and are proud to continue to put Portland on the map; ensuring the quality of education we are providing on the island is of such a high standard.’’

Inspectors graded the all-through school ‘Good’ in all areas from the quality of the education provided through to leadership and management and early years provision.

Dr Jeffery Quaye, National Director of Education and Standards for Aspirations, said: “Working with the co-principals, Lesley and Melissa over the last four years, I have seen first-hand the remarkable journey that they have taken to transform the school. I am delighted Ofsted has recognised the significant improvement in the quality of education students at Atlantic receive.”

Students at Atlantic Academy Portland

The report did point out a couple of areas the school could improve on. The report said that subject leaders at the school need to consider which crucial concepts need to be emphasised in the curriculum to deepen pupils’ knowledge and said that formal assessments do not always provide information that is specific enough to improve pupils’ knowledge, or amend misconceptions.

Students at Atlantic Academy Portland.