Out with the 'skulduggery' and in with a new school feel that is moving in the right direction, says inspector after visit to Ely College

PUBLISHED: 17:00 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:00 27 April 2017

Ely College students get a taste of university life as part of a programme called the ‘Brilliant club.’ The idea of the programme is to give students a taste of the style of learning that they would experience in the top universities in the country and they got to take part in a project with professors at UEA and also got to visit Cambridge Uni.

Ely College students get a taste of university life as part of a programme called the 'Brilliant club.' The idea of the programme is to give students a taste of the style of learning that they would experience in the top universities in the country and they got to take part in a project with professors at UEA and also got to visit Cambridge Uni.

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'Skulduggery in hidden corners' has reduced at Ely College according to a senior education official who says the battle to engage hearts and minds to raise standards is being won.

Ely College Pledges and Futures DayEly College Pledges and Futures Day

The principal is visible with hands on approach and is leading the college in the right direction, he concludes.

This follows a chequered history of staff changes and instability which was so noticeable that even students knew teachers were unhappy and stressed, says Tim Coulson, the Department of Education’s regional schools commissioner.

The college was praised for the new look and feel following a visit last month to check progress since joining with Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT) in July 2016.

Details of the visit are revealed in a letter to Ely College by Mr Coulson who says his inspector Harmer Parr found improvements to staff morale and the school building and noted “the college is moving strongly in the right direction”.

Students get inspired at Ely College careers event. PHOTO: Ely College.Students get inspired at Ely College careers event. PHOTO: Ely College.

Building improvements have not gone unnoticed, he added, and “improved security at one end of the site has reduced opportunities for skulduggery in hidden corners and the movement observed through narrow and difficult corridors was calm and ordered”.

Students described to Mr Parr “a very chequered history of changes of staff and instability and had an unusually mature awareness that teachers had often been unhappy and distressed during this period.

“They described how times had changed, the teaching was much better, the staff were visibly going the extra mile and poor behaviour was much less frequent”.

Principal, Richard Spencer, said: “We are delighted with the findings of this report and proud of the transformation the college has made so far.

Ely College Pledges and Futures DayEly College Pledges and Futures Day

“There is still much to do to ensure we provide the high quality education for all pupils that the people of Ely deserve but as the inspector so nicely put in his report ‘there is an important feeling of optimism for the challenges ahead’.

“I would like to thank the community for their continued support.

“Parents in particular should be very proud of the role they and their children are playing in the transformation of the school.”

The new house system and vertical tutor groups have “been an effective way of building mixed-age families and promoting a community feel” the report says and students see this as a more efficient system than before.

Ely College students with Jerry from Youth for Christ, Pastor Karl from Churches Together in Ely and Bethea Thompson, subject leader for RE at Ely College for the bible donation. PHOTO: Ely CollegeEly College students with Jerry from Youth for Christ, Pastor Karl from Churches Together in Ely and Bethea Thompson, subject leader for RE at Ely College for the bible donation. PHOTO: Ely College

Year 11 students are complimentary in recognising the efforts of staff to help them catch up and achieve their personal exam goals, the report adds.

Students “describe how times had changed, the teaching was much better, the staff were visibly ‘going the extra mile’ and poor behaviour was much less frequent”.

Students felt they would generally recommend the school and that any areas for improvement were being effectively tackled and managed.

Students spoke highly of the changes made to the building and were complimentary about their ability to have a say in the running of the school.

Chris Terry (Witchford Village College), Richard Spencer (Ely College), Helena Marsh (Linton Village College), Ryan Kelsall (Impington Village College), and Jonathan Russell (Bottisham Village College) with the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening and MP Lucy Frazer.Chris Terry (Witchford Village College), Richard Spencer (Ely College), Helena Marsh (Linton Village College), Ryan Kelsall (Impington Village College), and Jonathan Russell (Bottisham Village College) with the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening and MP Lucy Frazer.

They felt that their suggestions were taken on board and often led to actions.

The report praised the role of CMAT in the transformation because “the trust has played a key role in bringing about the improvements” and that “its local knowledge and presence have been much valued”.

Collaboration between the college and other local schools in the trust “has raised staff expectations about what is possible and contributed to better practice and a climate of improvement”.

CMAT were recently ranked as the fifth highest performing multi-academy trust in the country for its performance in the Key Stage 4 league tables.

• To see the changes and take a tour of the school please get in contact with college reception.

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