Dorset school shortlisted for Secondary School of the Year five years after ‘Inadequate’ rating

A school in Dorset has been nominated for Secondary School of the Year in the Tes School Awards. Atlantic Academy Portland has been nominated along with eight other schools nationwide, and an overall winner will be announced at a ceremony on June 17, 2022.

The prestigious appointment comes just weeks after Ofsted inspectors praised the school for its ‘remarkable turnaround’ 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 deemed ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted, ranking low in a government ranking of schools similar to the national scale. The school was taken over and renamed Atlantic Academy Portland in 2017.

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Atlantic’s Ofsted report notes: “This is a comprehensive school which 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 them.

“They are ambitious for the students, who respond well to the objectives set. Bullying is rare at school and students spoke of the school as a ‘family’ where they felt confident in sharing their concerns with staff. Atlantic Academy stands proudly on Portland’s southernmost point. Facilitators share the students’ pride in the uniqueness of the setting. They build strong relationships with the community and make the most of their surroundings.

“The relative small size of the school allows the staff to get to know the students well, and the staff respond diligently to the emotional needs and well-being of the students. The staff prepares the students well for life in the modern world. The students receive effective professional guidance and staff track students’ destinations as they depart.”

Ms Bishop, Head of Atlantic Secondary, said she was: ‘over the moon and incredibly proud of the TES nomination. It is a recognition of all the hard work of our staff who have stayed with us and worked tirelessly to help us transform the school. It is an honor to be shortlisted for them and our community.”

Ms. Heppell, Principal of Atlantic Elementary School, added, “Atlantic Academy is at the heart of the Portland community. All school staff work together as a family and we work here for the students and residents of Portland. We have transformed the school for them and we are always improving. We never want to settle down and strive to be better – we want the school to be exceptional.

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